In previous posts people complained and said what I’m writing is not true or even disrespectful.
I want to mention once again that everything I write is based on my personal experience. I’m well aware that it’s not true for everyone.
Don’t take granted that Japan is exactly the way I describe it in my “A German Alien in Japan” series.
It’s Japan how I see it though my eyes.
I know that I can be too sarcastic at times. Please take everything I write with a grain of salt. Or better a cup of salt. Or sugar, if that suits you better.
Today’s post won’t be any different, so better get ready …. or run for it NOW!~
I’ve already explained why I think that it’s usually harder for Western women to find a Japanese man than it is for Western guys to find a Japanese woman. Although there are exceptions, of course.
Today I want to list a few more possible reasons why Western women might not stand a chance against Japanese women.
Some of the things I’ll mention might even be true for Western men, so you guys, keep on reading as well!
The Hassle of Living in The Land of Lilliput
As a foreigner in Japan, especially coming from a Western country, you might run into several problems.
One of them might be very surprising. At least I didn’t expect it when I moved here!
Am I Bigfoot or are Japanese shoes just too small?
So, I don’t like buying shoes. I’m not fond of owning a lot of shoes.
But since I moved to Japan I’ve NEVER bought any shoes (apart from slippers).
Why is that, you ask?
MY FREAKING SHOE SIZE DOESN’T EXIST IN JAPAN!!
My Japanese shoe size is a “27“. That’s roughly a 42 in most European countries.
Yes, even for European standards I might have large feet, BUT at least I can manage to find shoes in my size back home.
However, it’s simply impossible here in Japan!
I can only buy slippers. Sport shoes are available in my size (men shoes), but they’re too wide.
I’m not really a Hello Kitty fan, but I was so happy when I found female slippers in my size (3L). It was such a rare discovery!
There are so many adorable shoes for girls here in Japan. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you!
I don’t own a single pair of high heels. No wonder I can’t compete with all the cute Japanese girls, when I’m the only one who can’t buy CUTE things!!!!
I’ve stopped looking at shoes completely. It’s simply too frustrating.
Previously in a shoe store:
Staff: “Oh, these are lovely, aren’t they?”
Me: “Yes, but I doubt you have them in my size.”
Staff: “I’m sure that’s not a problem. What’s your size?”
Staff: “Pardon?” (probably thought I don’t know the right shoe size in Japanese)
Staff: “Oh, I’m sooo very sorry, but we don’t have that size …”
Me: “I just knew it.”
Another time I wanted to buy new slippers for work:
Staff: “May I help you?”
Me: “Yes, I’m looking for slippers in size 27.”
Staff: “Oh, I see. Are they for your boyfriend? ^__^”
Me: “No. They are for me…”
Staff: “Oh, I see. I’m sooo sorry. Please follow me. They’re over there.”
The same goes for socks or tights and things like that.
I’ll always have to wait until I go back home to Germany to stock up again (which happens roughly every 2-2.5 years). No fun!
International Shoe Size Chart from Wikipedia (click to enlarge):
Most women shoes are available up to 24/25, so if you have smaller feet, you can buy all those cute shoes. Sometimes they go up to 26/26.5 cm, but that’s it.
People seriously gave me the advice to look in a “drag queen shop” for lady shoes in my size.
For men most shoes go up to 28, sometimes 30, so if you have larger feet, you’ll run into similar problems as me.
As you can see, most Japanese guys have smaller feet than me! (T______T) ….
Buying clothes can be tough, too:
I’m not short, but I’m also not very tall. I’m about 172 cm (5 ft 8 in). That’s taller than the average Japanese woman (158 cm / 5 ft 2 in), though.
As I’m slim, I don’t have any issues squeezing myself into Japanese clothes, but most of the time they’re too short!
Trousers, leggings and long sleeve shirts are always an issue. However, skirts and tops without long sleeves are perfect.
Finding gloves where my long fingers fit in can also be a drama.
I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s quite difficult to find clothes if you’re overweight. As most of you know there aren’t many “fat people” in Japan and what is available in shops is for the “average Japanese” with small feet, short legs and petite fingers plus a super slim body shape.
Same goes for Japanese men (average height: 170 cm / 5 ft 7 in).
If you’re a tall Western guy – no matter if you’re slim or fat, you’ll struggle to find clothes that fit.
It’s certainly going to be easier in big cities such as Osaka and Tokyo, but if you live in the countryside like me, you better stock up back home.
The good news is that for accessories size doesn’t matter.
Also, Japanese kids and teenagers are getting taller and taller recently. Some of my junior high students (even the girls) are already taller than I am.
I think in the near future the size of shoes and clothes will change accordingly.
I can’t fit into half of the clothes as they’re too short and my shoe size doesn’t even exist, so many of the adorable things available just have to stay in the store – or a cute Japanese girl will buy them instead.
Round 1: Me (0) – Japanese girls (2)
Why Being A Doll Is The Way To Go: About Make-Up and Shrill Voices
I see a lot of girls every day who are wearing tons of make-up. I’m sure they spent hours in front of the mirror.
Layers of make-up, false eyelashes and whatnot. They’re trying to look like cute little dolls.
And what is worse, some of them even try to speak like dolls!
I suppose if you’ve been to Japan you might have heard them on the train. They change their voice on purpose to sound super cute (and annoying), but apparently some Japanese guys seem to like it.
I’ve seen a lot of Japanese girls wearing heels when they went hiking. Some even tried to climb Mt. Fuji wearing those kind of shoes. WHAT THE …??!!
I kind of understand that some want to look like cute, innocent dolls, but it’s all so fake!
And I remember reading an article where a foreign guy wrote about his experience with Japanese girls and how they slammed the bathroom door in the morning when he tried to enter because she hasn’t “put on her mask” (a.k.a. tons of make-up) yet. He even wrote that he was sure he took a different person back home the night before.
I’m all for dressing up cute at times, but I hate people who are fake.
If that’s what I have to do in order to get a (Japanese) guy, then I’m out!
Round 2: Me (0) – Japanese girls (1)
Japan’s Ideal of Female Beauty
Of course the ideal of beauty differs from culture to culture and what is considered pretty in Western countries might not be true in Japan.
The classical Japanese beauty still seems to be the most popular: long black hair with a porcelain white skin.
When I first came to Japan I was really shocked to see that almost everybody was avoiding the sun, especially the women. They were all wearing hats, long gloves and had parasols. Sunblocks are super strong. And to top it all, there is “whitening cream“.
I got the shock of my life when I bought my first facial cream in Japan. I just grabbed a cream that looked alright without taking a second look. After using it, my face turned white. I looked like a clown!!! A lot of Japanese women try everything to keep their skin as pale as possible.
In most Western countries the ideal of beauty nowadays is that a nice tan is the way to go. If you’re too pale it either means that you’re a couch potato or you’re sick.
In Germany we try to get out as soon as summer comes to get a tan, comparing who got darker afterwards. Here in Japan, they probably compare who’s whiter instead.
This is another thing where I’m not playing along. I don’t want to be too pale.
The sun in Japan is very aggressive and you have to be careful. I’m also using sunblock and cover my arms with long gloves if I’m out in the sun for too long, but not because I want to stay pale.
With that ideal of beauty it can be very difficult for you to find make-up in Japan. All the foundations and powders are too pale for my skin tone. If you’re naturally a bit darker, it might be challenging to find good make-up here.
Round 3: Me (0) – Japanese girls (1)
You’ve Gotta Be Stupid, Girl:
What I find even more stupefying is the fact that apparently some Japanese men WANT a “baka onna” – a stupid woman.
A lot of Japanese men seem to be horrified by the thought of a woman being smarter than them.
There’s a really interesting article on Tofugu about that, so go ahead and read it.
Young women dressed up as maids in Akihabara. Cute, innocent and obedient.
And sadly I’ve experienced that as well.
Japanese people often freak out when they find out that I’m (more or less) fluent in English, German and Japanese.
I get comments like “Wow! Sugoi! You’re a genius!”.
At that point I usually decide not to mention that I also learned French, Latin and Spanish (though I’ve forgotten most of it now).
Where I’m from it’s not such a big deal if somebody can speak two foreign languages or more.
While Japanese people are really impressed by it, I’ve noticed that some Japanese men seemed to be a bit intimidated.
At least they’ve reacted in a way I’ve never seen a Western guy react to it.
However, I will not pretend to be stupid. Well, maybe I am – and all is good, but I’m certainly not doing it on purpose …. unless I’m trying to be funny like in front of my little monsters (a.k.a. my students). And to cite them: “Oh, My Gaga!”
Apparently this also has to do with the fact that a lot of Japanese men want their wives to stay at home, taking care of the kids and the housework, cooking delicious meals and all that. If a woman is “too smart”, they might not want to give up their career. At least that could be one thing Japanese guys are afraid of.
Luckily not every guy’s taste is the same, so no need to freak out.
Round 4: Me (1) – Japanese girls (0)
Result: Me (1) – Japanese girls (4) (I so don’t care!)
Being a foreigner in Japan certainly has its good and its bad sides.
I’ve mentioned some of the possibly inconvenient points today.
However, a lot of Japanese would love to look like a (Western) foreigner. They want to have longer noses (why, oh, why?), want to be taller, want to have a different hair or eye color.
As a foreigner you do stick out, because your looks are different. Often you are much taller than the average Japanese which will attract a lot of attention. People will stare at you, you might even be treated like a superstar.
They’ll squeal and tell you how cute, pretty or handsome you are. You’ll certainly get to hear nice compliments much more often than back home – and I bet that makes us all feel good, doesn’t it?
On the other side, it can be difficult if you live in Japan for a long time. Like I said you might struggle to find clothes, shoes … – or for the girls the make-up you need. And because you look different, you might be treated like an outsider – even if you were born in Japan!
What is your experience with this?
Do you have issues finding clothes or shoes in your size in Japan?
If so, where do you get your stuff from?
Have you met the type of “doll girl” I described? What do you think about them?
And what about the “Baka Onna Theory“?
I feel your pain! My shoe size is 26.5. From cute socks to nice shoes, I am right out! My height is 5’7″ and I weigh 140, so a size 8-10 in America, but here in Japan it’s ridiculously hard to find clothes that fit. Mostly because Japanese torsos tend to be longer and their legs shorter than the average Westerner. I have to stick with tunics (or mamasan clothes that make me look matronly!) I’m not trying to find a man, but then, I wouldn’t want a man who expected me to be cutesy, dumb, or wear a lot of makeup. Maybe my self-confidence and direct speech is a turn-off to most Japanese men. I can tell you that some of my students’ stories about what they do to cater to their husbands’ needs are scary to me. Back to the clothes issue, I order everything on Amazon.
Of course, I’m sorry to hear that you struggle as well, but I’m also glad to see I’m not the only one! ;)
Ordering clothes or shoes online just doesn’t work for me. Even though something seems to have the right size, it often doesn’t fit. I need to be able to try it.
I often struggle to find trousers or shoes that really fit even back home, but at least I get something in the end.
My legs are too long and thin, so either trousers are tight enough, but short, or long enough but too wide. (T___T) …
It all seems to be a matter of race and genetics.
This was a great post J. Loved the woman’s point of view on this. My mother should have lived in Japan, she’s under 5 ft. and can never can find shoes and clothes to fit her except in the children’s department. I laughed so hard reading this post and am very impressed with your comedic chops, nice work… Bravo!!! I don’t think I like the doll girl type either, but I haven’t seen one in person. Here in the US, we had a famous preachers wife, named Tammy Faye Baker on the television who looked like some caricature of a doll (with a dozen layers of makeup) from a horror movie though. “Stupid is as stupid does” – a famous Alabamian (Forrest Gump) said this about the Baka Onna theory! ;P :D
Gotta love Forrest Gump! ;P
I’m sure your mother would love to go shopping here in Japan then.
Glad you like my writing style and thanks so much for your nice words! :D
I didn’t try it myself yet, but the Japanese Zalando, Locondo, has a section for lady shoes in “oversize” from 25 to 32. If the service is as good as in Germany, I will give it a try the next time I am in Japan: http://www.locondo.jp/shop/search?searchSizeStart=25&searchSizeEnd=32&searchCategory=ladies&xadid=size_l_over25
Because my legs are pretty long most trousers are too short for me and dresses never look the way they are supposed to when I wear them (but sometimes they still look good, just in another way) XD I like to buy stuff at Uniqlo and Muji, because they also have branches overseas and so expanded their range of sizes the last years. When I bought a pair of jeans in 2008, I barley fit into the largest size at uniqlo – and I was MUCH thinner that time – now there are some more sizes to choose from :D
Because I am very pale, for me Japanese make-up is heaven! I have a really hard time finding fitting make-up in Germany -.-
I try not to compare myself to “Japanese women” vs. me, because that’s a game one only can loose. I also do not look and act like the average “German woman” ;) While I think there are surely Japanese men that prefer the dolled up baka-onna as girlfriend and wife, I know plenty of Japanese guys that are so fed up with them. Many Japanese men are indeed intimidated by smart women, this is true, but this is also the case with a lof of men from other parts of the world – I then hold on to the rest that values a chat with a smart lady ;)
Thanks so much for the suggestion.
Unfortunately I can’t order shoes (or clothes) online. It always takes a long time to find something (especially shoes) that really fits – even back home.
It’s very frustrating. :(
Uniqlo and Muji are great indeed – the latter for more than just clothes. ^__^
However, even there I have a hard time finding trousers. It’s good for comfy stuff to wear at home.
I agree. I usually try not to compare myself to Japanese women, too.
And you’re right that (luckily) there are Japanese men who’re not looking for a doll or an idiot. ;P
Oh god yes… the women climbing Mt Fuji in heels. I also saw them. I doubt they made it to the top though, or they’re made of steel and I severely underestimate them :ehehe:
Sad to hear that nothing changed with shoe sizes. I’m lucky as I’m a 24 but my friends was also a 27 and couldn’t find any shoes. She had to shop in the men section for some sneakers.
I also noticed something: I feel as if trousers for women don’t have enough space for my… bottom in them. While living in Japan I sometimes bought men’s trousers as they had the right… design to fit me. Recently a lot are stretch though so I fit fine in those :shiawase:
Maybe it actually hurts less when you climb Mt. Fuji in heels – and we all just don’t know!
I had REALLY good shoes and yet I could have thrown my feet away afterwards. They hurt so badly!
I hope they’ll notice that more Japanese teenagers are growing tall recently and change their products accordingly SOON! (T_T) …
Haha, that’s a funny thing to notice. :hihi:
I’ve completely given up on trousers, so I haven’t tried any in a very long time.
Thank you for the interesting post!.
I am a Japanese man who married to a foreigner and moved to her country. (She left me after 5 years of marriage, but please don’t judge me with Japanese-husband stereotype. She admitted to other people that I am very different from the stereotype even after she left me.)
Because I witnessed how my wife used to struggle finding shoes and clothes in Tokyo, I found this article very interesting. I remember, I tried to take her to the places where she can find import shoes, clothes and the stores that are targeting younger people while we were in Tokyo. That worked fairly well from my perspective, but she may not be as happy as she said she was because finding stores and shop around by herself is also an important part of “going out for shopping” for her, I think.
I have smaller but wide feet; so, I have very limited shoes choices in North America and stock up some when I visited Japan. But, most clothes fit ok, and prices in Vancouver are way affordable than in Tokyo.
About cosmetics and white-skin, I have no clue for cosmetics, but I am for sure that Asian girls, in general, seems to avoid getting tanned too much even in Canada. I remember, my Asian female friends tried to avoid getting suntanned, where my wife was trying to avoid sunburn. My wife has really white/sensitive skin and she had to use sunblock and ware a hat to avoid getting boiled lobster look. I saw her suffering from sunburn sometimes and it was really painful to look at. So, it’s more practical for her to avoid sun, than for cosmetic reasons, I guess.
She sometimes teased me with “Japanese girl’s voice” that annoyed her very much when she hard some Japanese girls were talking in anime like “cute voice”. And, that was kind of fun for us for a few times, but it became very annoying if she teased me too often. So, it’s not that fun for her and I don’t think I like it either.
Smart girl vs stupid girl: This is not only issue found in Japan, but also found in North America. And, I personally feel uncomfortable when I hear some girls acting fake or some guys judging girls with such ridiculous stereotyping.
House wife: I agree with you. There are quite a lot of Japanese men who still want their wives to stay at home and raise their kids, do house hold things and cook. I think this is ridiculous. I respect my wife’s professional life and truly wish her to be successful in every way. We used to take turns or took rolls – I cook and she does the dishes, we clean the room together and took turns for laundry.
I am from highly educated family and admit that I am a bit different from ordinary Japanese men because of the experiences from living back and forth between North America and Japan. I still see your points, though. There are quite a lot of people in Japan who still lives in mono-culture perspective. But, I believe it’s time to clack their shells.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It’s very interesting to read about a Japanese man who is so open-minded and has experienced different cultures and lifestyles! :D
I’m surprised to hear that you struggle to find shoes in North America, because in my imagination you can find any size there. As I’ve never been to America, I have no experience with this, though.
I totally agree that it’s a different story if somebody has extremely sensitive skin – like your ex-wife. It’s dangerous for your health, too.
Nobody should get sunburnt. What I was talking about is avoiding the sun by all means just to stay pale. I’ve seen a lot of Japanese people (especially kids) who get extremely dark if they’re out in the sun all day. It seems like most Japanese people don’t get sunburnt easily. Just look at people in Okinawa! They get darker than most Lations. *g*
But as it’s not considered beautiful, most (women) try to avoid the sun, I guess.
I think it’s awesome that you and your partner tried to split up or share tasks. That’s how it should be in my opinion.
I wish more Japanese people were as open-minded as you. I know there are several people like you – here in Japan. But most of them have lived abroad for some time and got to know other cultures.
Hopefully the next generation will become more interested in other cultures.
Whenever I ask my students, most of them tell me that they don’t wish to go abroad. They have no intention of ever leaving Japan – not even for a short vacation. :(
Wegen der Schuhe.. Wenn dir 3L passt, guck mal ob du einen Shimamura in der Nähe hast, die haben auch 3L Schuhe.
Eine japanische Freundin von mir hat ebenfalls große Füße und wenn sie dann mal nach Deutschland fährt, kommt sie mit mindestens 5 Schuhschachteln zurück >.<
Aber wenn man doch mal unbedingt was neues braucht, hilft vll Shimamura..
Ich liebe Shimamura. Leider gibt es hier in unmittelbarer Nähe keines.
Trotzdem danke für den Tipp. Würde gerne mal wieder hingehen! ^____^
I for once want to be a little taller and bigger.. hahaha I’m way too short for a guy and wish I could be at least 170cm.. ;P I bet I’ll be having the same problem in finding sizes for clothing and shoes if I live in the US or Europe. And which is why Uniqlo and Muji are my favorite brands now — they just fit rightaway!
After reading, I think some of my preferences in girls match the description of typical Japanese girls. It’s true that I myself consider having a porcelain white skin is ideal (I guess this is influenced by the stereotype that fair skinned equals to beauty in (Southeast) Asia). However, darker and tanned skinned girls are awesome too. They are exotic to behold don’t they :)
Just curious, I read that the tendency to avoid the sunlight from tanning your skin also happens to some Japanese guys as well nowadays. Is that true?
I think it depends on your size. If you’re not super small, you certainly will find clothes (and shoes) in Europe (and I suppose in America as well).
I’ve never seen any Japanese guy with a parasol or with long gloves to avoid the sunlight, but some of them stay rather pale, too.
If that’s on purpose or because they’re staying inside all day, being busy at work, I don’t know.
If you visit Okinawa (especially in summer) you’ll find a lot of tanned Japanese people. They can get extremely dark actually. ^___^
Okinawa is quite different from the rest of Japan, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if being tanned is considered beautiful there.
Gee, I’m only over 162cm. Even ‘S’ size sometimes would be big enough for me.. My friends told me to go to children’s section if I ever plan to shop in Europe haha..
Most of my Japanese guy friends are dark skinned, I guess they’re not cooped up indoors all the time then. The thing with East Asian skin is, when you get exposed to sunlight often, they’ll get dark faster than everyone. I myself am dark skinned, the sun doesn’t effect me at all, I even went to beaches without sunblock cream.
Seeing Okinawa is similar to islands in the tropics, I wouldn’t too surprised to see tanned people everywhere :)
I am afraid that the question of size doesn’t apply to me: being 1m50, I certainly do not stand out in the crowd in Japan. I wear a French/Italian size 35 1/2 shoe. I have bought some clothes without any problems in Japan.
Now I will note that you are also taller than the average for American women, which is 1m645. But of course in my case that average is too tall, so I need to shorten pants, etc. I solved the problem by making most of my own clothes. Which also resolved my problem of champagne taste on a beer budget. When it comes to shoes, I have the opposite problem as well: most American shoes don’t come any smaller than a 6 [French/Italian 36]. Not only that, they don’t seem to fit my type foot anyway. So I have tended to buy shoes on trips to Europe. Haven’t tried them in Japan.
Now it is obvious to me that many young Japanese women tend to go for cute. But I don’t think that’s an absolute. I see plenty who are simply elegant, or try to be. They may be smart too. The enduring success of actresses like Yonekura Ryoko, Amami Yuki, Matsushima Nanako, or even Ueto Aya, shows that cute isn’t a general standard. Obviously, beauty helps.
As far as stupid women being preferred in theory by Japanese men, I think a lot of men in general simply lack confidence and prefer feeling superior to their wives. When it comes to the nitty gritty, I wonder how many like being married/living with a fool. So I think that deep down, they want an intelligent wife who doesn’t show off.
I am quite pale naturally, so had no problem with the cosmetics the one time I had to buy some. I do use blusher not to look dead.
My impression about the attraction of Japanese women is that many have great charm. A lovely voice and a considerate attitude can do wonders. American women for instance have a certain aggressivity that can turn many foreign men off. American men have preferred European women for the same reasons that they like the Japanese ones.
Simone, I envy you!
You’d have such an easy time here, especially with shoes! :D
No wonder you were able to buy clothes when you visited. ^^
The ones who try to be cute (but don’t exaggerate) I don’t mind so much. Actually I look at them and think they’re adorable or they have something that I’d want, too.
I just can’t take the ones who exaggerate it – almost cosplaying. Changing their voices and “adjusting” their character to be exactly what (in their eyes) a Japanese man wants.
And I agree that there are a lot of elegant women, too! Most of my previous co-workers were like that. Really liked it! :D
I think you’re right. But it’s not just about the “showing off” part. They also want a wife who is willing to give up on her career any minute to stay home and do “what she’s supposed to do”.
Even nowadays so many women stop working the minute they get married! The rest will quit once they’re pregnant.
I remember that one of my female co-workers rejected a proposal because she didn’t want to give up on her career yet. She was almost 30 at that time.
But she had lived in America for several years before coming back to Japan and I suppose she’s learned that things can be different and that a woman doesn’t have to give up her career so easily.
For me it’s really hard to tell if there’s such a big difference between American and European women, but it’s very interesting to hear what others have to say.
Thanks for sharing! :D
At first I found what you’re writing kind of offensive, but then since you came from a Western country, it’s completely understandable. I was born and raised in an Asia country, and we Asians are so familiar with all this, especially shoes sizes (majority of Asians have really small feet, remember that) and the pale, white skin. When I came to USA, I was surprised to see girls getting tan and their feet are usually size 8-9.
In general, I usually don’t think it’s easy for Western foreigners to adapt with the Asian culture. Our behaviors are just too bizarre and weird (laugh).
I don’t think that Japanese culture (can’t speak for any other Asian country) is bizarre.
Yes, some behaviors are hard to understand, but that happens even back home.
It’s true that not everybody can adapt to a foreign culture – and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Western person, an Asian person or whoever.
That’s why many people leave and go back home after a few years.
By writing about available shoe and clothes sizes I didn’t mean to be offensive or racist at all. That’s just a matter of fact.
And of course, I tried to provoke a little with my statement about “doll girls” and “baka onna”. ;)
What an interesting post! I agree with you on so many points, and I think you have guts posting something as bold as this!
I dated a few Japanese and Koreans when I lived in Japan, and they would always comment on how white my skin was and ooo and ahh—and it kinda freaked me out. Exact opposite to what happened in the USA, where my Irish-white skin always had fellow classmates call me goth and I felt this intense pressure to go tanning out in the sun. After a few years in Japan I found myself using parasols and covering up from the sun more than trying to soak in some rays. Overall, I think staying pale is a healthier option (reduced risk of sun cancer), but I definitely think those bleaching creams are just over the top (Can’t be safe to bleach your face. Just can’t be).
I agree on the point about Japanese girls that fake being stupid to lure in a man. My Japanese friend even told me once that, according to a magazine survey (forget exactly which one), over 80% of Japanese women fake being 天然 (an airhead) in order to flirt. That’s just nuts. Also, being called an airhead in Japanese by a fellow male isn’t an insult—in fact, it’s a compliment. They think women that are unaware and naïve is adorable; while on the other hand they’re absolutely intimidated by a strong willed, opinion wielding foreigner ready to speak her mind (but hey, not all Japanese men are intimidated, just the majority).
And yeah, it is nice to get the extra attention just for being different in Japan, but sometimes you get lonely and wish someone would like you for who you are rather than for your blonde hair or big eyes. I always felt myself get tired of meeting people that just wanted to speak English or make friends with a westerner (as over 90% of my Japanese companions fell into this category), but every now and then I’d meet somebody who would look at me not as an American, but for who I was as an individual. Those are the ones you gotta snatch up.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us!
Very interesting about that survey. It’s nuts indeed. *sigh*
Luckily there are a few men who don’t want that type of woman, but one of the reasons that women behave that way is because men WANT it.
Well, there are so many weird things here in Japan, but relationships are one of the weirdest!
There are more and more singles, the majority of married couples doesn’t have sex anymore ……
It’s the country with the weirdest things because relationships here aren’t the way they should be and finding a partner is getting more and more difficult. All the host clubs, soap spas, love hotels, ‘rent a boyfriend’ and whatnot ….. :/
And I can totally relate to what you say about wanting to be seen as an individual and not as a “nationality”.
That’s a huge problem! I wonder if that’s the reason why so many foreigners tend to hang out with other foreigners?!?
Well written as always! But just maybe you missed something . . .
I really appreciate your comments on my site, Jasmine, so I hate to be critical, but this paints a bit of a one-sided, stereotypical, picture of Japan. People sometimes remark how pretty Japanese women are, but I think that’s off the mark. Why is nobody talking about how many really plain, even downright unattractive women there are?
There seems to be a misperception about Japanese women that comes from the layout of Japanese cities. If you go to a city center, that’s like going to a nightclub—everyone dresses up to look their best, so of course it appears that all the people are gorgeous. And that’s where all of the young people congregate, so what you’re getting is an utterly skewed sample. It’s like going to Daytona beach during Spring Break and noticing how many dolled-up girls are gathered there, pretending to be airheads. Of course there are. Nobody’s sitting on the beach in sweatpants reading Kafka. And they’re not doing it in Shibuya either.
What I’m saying is that going to any public event in Japan—shopping, flower viewing, even hiking—is going to attract women who are there to be seen, and who dress and act the part. So if you want a real view of Japan, you can’t get it there. You have to go outside of the city centers.
So do this and tell me if I’m not right. Go to any small shitamachi 下町, where people actually live, and just count. How many women walk by? Not just the college girls, count everybody. And out of 100 women, how many fit this stereotypical image of a cute, Japanese girl?
I don’t think you’ll find the number of is any higher than anywhere else in the world.
Hey Ken! :D
Don’t worry. You can be critical as much as you want! ;)
I thought I did mention that Japanese women aren’t all the beautiful, innocent, “doll-like” girls everybody thinks they are (especially those who have not yet been to Japan think so) – and that when they remove their make-up some guys almost get a heart attack.
It’s just like in any other country in the world. There are beautiful and not so … pretty women, right?
As you know I live in the countryside and surely not everybody is dressed up like a fashion model.
I rarely go to big cities, but I do understand why so many try so hard to stick out of the crowds – even if that means they have to climb Mt. Fuji in heels (or in a Rilakkuma costume …).
However, what I was talking about is that some pretend to be “cute”, “innocent” or even dumb just to get a man.
I think I didn’t mention any numbers or statistics anywhere. If I gave the impression that Japan only consists of those kind of girls, I apologize.
THAT would be HORRIBLE indeed and I would probably leave Japan right away, because I couldn’t take the “fake” acting and squealing on the train.
Luckily there are many other types of women as well.
But for the intention of my blog post, I only wanted to mention the ones I did.
I hope you kind of understood what I was trying to say. *g*
I see where you’re coming from and that’s good too. I really do love your writing. It’s just that many people who read our sites live overseas, or have only visited Japan for a few months, and seem to have mistaken impressions about Japan and its people.
Here’s what everybody “knows” about Japanese girls: they’re cute, they have small feet, and they talk in ditzy high voices. Foreign readers already think that, so telling them that just reinforces that mistaken impression. Showing pictures of girls in maid costumes only backs it up.
But that’s not what Japan’s really like. You live in the inaka and so you know that, but they don’t. It might be better to dispel these stereotypes about Japan (and conversely, Japanese people’s stereotypes about Westerners), rather than reinforce them. I know that’s really more what I write about rather than you, but still . . .
I feel we have to be careful as writers. It’s easy to say that “men are only after Japanese women,” and on the surface that may seem to be true. But I think the reality is exactly the opposite. Men who know what Japanese women are actually like don’t want them at all. That’s why the women in this country have to try so hard, and cover up what they’re really like. Or as we say in Japanese, 猫かぶり.
Oh, now I understand what you were trying to say. I see!
You’re absolutely right!
I don’t like it when people spread those stereotypes that just aren’t (completely) true about Japan.
I didn’t notice that my article might provide a wrong impression. That surely wasn’t my intention.
Thanks so much for pointing it out.
I hope that people also read the comments and see our discussion here – as I’m sure this will clarify things.
Clearly I didn’t really mean it when I said “Men are only after Japanese women.”
I wanted to exaggerate and provoke with this whole article, but I guess my writing style just doesn’t get my ideas through properly.
I understand that we carry responsibility as writers, but as you know I don’t think I’m a skilled writer at all – and writing in a language that is not your mother tongue can be challenging at times. (Yeah, I like that excuse. I really do! )
Yeah, mad props to you for writing in English. I know what you mean—when I write in Japanese, I have none of the nuance that I do in English. It’s like half the insight, and twice the grammar mistakes. What’s not to like?
You’re always thought-provoking, Jasmine. Keep it up!
Your biggest fan,
Kudos to you for writing in Japanese at all! :D
Thank you so much!
I admire your writing skills. I hope I can learn from you, Ken-sensei! ^____^
Well,I am looking at moving to Japan in the near future after getting my IT Degrees,at least it would be a big change where I can find a lady that is not after money
Good luck with that! I truly hope you’ll find what you’re looking for.
There are women who are after your money in Japan as well. You’ll find that type of woman in every country, I fear.
So I had a really awful experience this weekend that made me remember this post and I thought I’d share it with you (because it just proves your entire post true).
My Chinese/Japanese friend invited me to a speed dating event hosted by the Chinese-Japanese Intercultural Club. I’ve never gone speed dating and really had no hopes really, but I thought going as a westerner could be a fun experience and maybe I could make a few good stories (and friends?) out of the whole ridiculous event.
Total there are 20 guys and 25 girls. Almost all the men are Japanese (23?), and the women are all Chinese except for one Japanese woman, myself, and another black American girl (how’d she get there?)
In the beginning, they had us line up and face each other (awkward), and proceeded to give the men two stickers each. The host announced that the men were to give the girl they fancied the most a sticker (of course, we haven’t even talked yet so it was more like ‘pick the prettiest girl.’)
And…all of them went to the Japanese girl. All of them. She was covered in stickers within 1 minute.
Of course, following this ridiculous activity the rest of us women obviously lost any motivation or drive to even go on with the event, but since we had paid money to get in and were already there we grudgingly continued to have awkward table chat with men that (we knew) weren’t interested in us.
At the end, the host gave the men one last sticker and had them pick their favorite girl again. Surprise surprise, all the Japanese men flocked to the lone Japanese woman (some even offering up their business cards). As the final topping on the cake, the host took her hand, lead her to a podium and gave her a prize for being “the most popular.” The most gag inducing moment was when she said: “何か、友達あまりいなくてさびしくなるから。。。宜しくお願い致します” hurl!
And yes, she was a Japanese girl that looked exactly like how you described in your post above.
What was supposed to be a fun and easygoing event literally shattered my self esteem. I mean, many of the girls there were quite hot or equally as cute as her! Just goes to show that Japanese men would rather keep it local… than try something new. So depressing!
Anyway, sorry if this comment was a downer but it was really awful! Cry.
Hi Mary, sorry for hearing your bad experience and sorry for hijacking the comment. But I just had to wonder myself, “Why do they always have such interesting event there?” I mean man, there are 20++ new girls to be acquainted with, in one shot, and that kind of speed dating event would probably not exist in the country where I currently reside. I am both envious (for having the seemingly awesome event) and not envious (for the bad part) with your experience..
Have you ever watched Japanese TV shows? ;)
That event was still rather harmless. I’m not a fan of speed dating, that’s why I haven’t tried it myself yet.
Hahaha no no, somehow I’m not a big fan of Japanese TV shows. Tried to watch a couple of gameshows or comedy, but stopped after a while. The joke is rather unfunny to my taste.
Ah, you haven’t tried it? I guess it would be okay just to try once. Just come with the worst scenario imagined and empty expectation, then you should be alright. =P
Mary, thanks so much for taking the time to share your horrible experience with us. :(
I’m so sorry. That must have felt horrible, but at least you weren’t alone. I bet all the other girls besides the Japanese one must have felt similar.
I’m actually surprised that it was that extreme. I would have suspected that at least some of them would prefer another type.
Maybe all of them came to meet a young, beautiful Japanese girl … and when there was only ONE, that was their only choice?
But that’s what the majority of young Japanese men seem to want nowadays. Luckily there are exceptions … somewhere out there, but unfortunately they are RARE!
Let’s not give up! (T_T)
Die Probleme die du beschreibst hab ich leider hier in Deutschland :ehehe: Wenn du 1.50 klein und Schugröße 35 hast, bekommst du hier nichts. Deswegen bestelle ich meine Sachen immer aus Japan ;P
Du würdest dich wahrscheinlich hier in Japan wie im Paradies fühlen! ;)
Falls du mal nach Japan kommst, musst du ganz viel einkaufen. *g*