Warning: This article kind of turned into a giant vocabulary lesson, more than anything else. I hope you guys enjoy learning words you may never use.
Are you in Japan?
Are you a non-Japanese woman?
Have people been telling you that you are at some sort of disadvantage because you are not a white male?
Well, that would overall be true for every situation you face in your life.
Don’t obsess over stuff you can’t change and read some random information about dating in Japan. If you think I missed anything/want to add something please comment!
PDA not ok, but feel free to do everything in pairs
As a proponent for a certain level of PDA, I am saddened about how anything beyond hand-holding is seen as going “over the line” in public.
BUT! Japanese culture is far from being anti-couple.
Examples I can think of off the top of my head that are super couple-y about Japan:
– Disneyland etc. sets itself up as a place to take your kids, a place to go with your friends and a place to go with your lover. *Also a popular place to hold your wedding.
– Valentine’s Day birthed a whole new holiday called, “White Day.” Assuming you are a hetero couple, (sorry, Japanese holiday makers assume a lot), the woman does something like get chocolates for the guy and the guy gets to return the romantic favor the following month.
–Christmas Eve is a time for cuddling up with your loved one and eating fried chicken. Illuminations are a popular thing in the wintertime and create a romantic atmosphere. This is my guess as to why Christmas Eve became one of the most romantic nights in the year in Japan.
-Traveling becomes easier when you have a partner. Most rooms in ryokan require at least 2 people staying in a room.
-Finally you have someone to send those dumb lovey-dovey emoji to non-ironically.
(~￣³￣)~ (★´3｀)(´ε｀●)ﾟ+｡*ﾟ+｡KISS｡+ﾟ*+ﾟ *Ilove(*´д｀)you*
Beware of the grass eater
“Soushoku-kei” （草食系） has become a pop cultural buzzword in Japan over the last several years. Grass-eaters, or “herbivores” are people that are waaay too passive. Even if they want something, they will not go after it. Instead they will wait for the opportunity to randomly show up before them.
This means you need to be the one taking the initiative (this was a pretty hard thing for me to do at first…). Ask for a guy’s contact info, contact him, let him know you are actually interested…When he knows it should be easier for him to respond to you. He has barely anything to lose now!
Sometimes, even the above doesn’t even work. You try and show interest, he just sits there, clueless. You invite him over to your place, he will freeze up and never move again. Now you have a corpse in your apartment, great.
Again, I will reiterate, this is anecdotal evidence. I bet some guys would get more daring in a private space. Even if they are herbivores.
According to a mynavi report of a survey taken by O-net, 52.8% of a sample of 400 men who turned 21 in the last year, had never had a romantic relationship with anybody.
I have absolutely no clue if this is high or not (mysteriously there are no statistics I can find that would be directly comparable to this from other countries…If you have any, I would appreciate a link or something), but this is what you are dealing with.
Herbivore men will almost never make the first move, never plan out something and surprise you, but maybe they are good listeners?
The foreign-girl hunter
Shocking fact: there are some guys who view girls as conquests. And what is more of a conquest than someone outside of your race/country? I know, it is hard to believe that someone would even think that way about another human being.
I guess it’s okay if you don’t mind being viewed as a trophy. But, there are times when you might be uncomfortably paraded around friends and you might get asked if it’s true that foreign girls go hairless “down there,” or how big are your boobs really? (fun fact: many Japanese women do not landscape. Brazilian waxing is still a pretty rare commodity.)
These people may also want a free foreign language course from you. You obviously don’t owe anyone language lessons.
One thing that a lot of girls notice when they come to Japan is the lower frequency of being hit-on and cat-called in public. This is overall a pretty welcome change.
However, there are still guys who like success rates that are not 0% and will try to prowl about on the streets and “nanpa” (“nanpa” is the word for “hit-on” or “pick-up”) These guys are often called “nikushoku” (opposite of the soushoku, they “eat meat”…). These guys might also be “charai.” Charai is an adjective describing something gaudy or flashy. In short, charai guys put on airs and think they are hot.
True story: this is the “pick-up line” I hear the most. I really don’t understand it because about 60% of the time the guy who asks me this cannot speak English.
I have heard stories of not just nanpa, but of girls being followed or flashed when they were walking home. I have been followed before as well. Just because unwanted male attention is rarer, doesn’t mean it does not exist. You should always use your common sense, I think that goes without saying.
Embrace your femininity (at your own level of comfort)
Obviously you should not change yourself into a completely different person. But, in Japan, especially in Tokyo, there is a culture of continually caring about your appearance. Japanese girls in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. will generally not leave the house unless they have applied a bit of make-up. Without makeup you are “suppin.” (Means “not made-up.”)
Your suppin face is supposed to solely be your at-home, lounging around face.
On a semi-related note, you might also notice that girls here almost never wear pants.
Flaunting your femininity is a bit of an expected thing here. Sometimes all the frilly, cute, childish stuff does come off as a bit of a sexist fantasy (at least to me). But I do try harder to wear cute clothes here with the rationalization of “When in Rome…”
Also cute clothes can be undeniably cute.
One thing I will never be able to do is try to look presentable when running errands or hanging around my neighborhood. Many girls, however, look super nice even when they are going on errands….
I actually have made a book of my adventures dating in Japan in the past, but it was only in Japanese and is a bit embarrassing to post online (for some reason not embarrassing to sell to strangers at a convention).
I would love to hear people’s thoughts on the subject! I don’t see many dating in Japan from a girl’s perspective articles.