The standard date of dinner and a movie is the same in Japan, but what is considered attractive, how people meet, and get married may be quite different. And in a country where nothing is quite what it appears on the surface, relationships are rarely simple.

Foreigners Dating Japanese: For Him

It’s widely believed that western men are very popular with Japanese women, that a rather average guy from the states comes to Japan and everyone thinks he looks like Tom Cruise. I’m here to tell you this is absolutely true. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a dorky looking westerner with a beautiful Japanese girl on his arm. I guess I fall into this category; lord knows what my wife saw in me. So what’s the attraction? Western men tend to be bigger than Japanese men and blond hair and blue eyes are considered exotic and attractive. Even after many years of marriage, my wife sometimes looks at me, “Oh my gosh, you have blue eyes!” Also, Japan is not a “ladies first” culture, so if a guy treats a Japanese girl with basic good manners like opening doors and such, she tends to be really impressed. Remember, she wants to be treated like a princess. Japan has a lot of social norms on behavior, but for her, the western man is outside the loop. She doesn’t have to pretend with him and be completely herself. Relationships tend to develop faster in Japan and the “heavy stuff”, the deep dark secrets come a lot sooner than expected, even in the first couple of weeks. Japanese Women are more interested in foreign languages and travel than men. A lot of women tend to study English in college and over 50% of students at most language schools are women. Whereas men tend to study English more for their jobs, she studies for a hobby or travel.

This view of western men is not limited to dating. Japanese men, especially employers can be easily impressed with westerners. Even today, all things being equal, a blond haired, blue-eyed western man would be preferred in the office. And there is no cooler Japanese man than the one who can carry on a natural conversation in English with a foreigner. This stereotype was nowhere more apparent than in the hilarious comic strip, “Charisma Man” that ran in English speaking newspapers in Japan. It followed the adventures of a skinny, wimpy Canadian man who when he got off the plane in Japan was transformed into a buffed hunk with amazing powers to attract Japanese women and impress Japanese men. “Charisma Man’s” only nemesis was “Western Woman” who could easily see through his fa├žade.

Foreigners Dating Japanese: For Her

The same is not necessarily true for foreign women. It’s not that they aren’t attracted to Japanese men or don’t think they’re interesting. The number one complaint from foreign women about Japanese men is that they are too passive and don’t take the initiative. She’s frustrated. She see’s her western male co-workers with a different girl every week, but she keeps waiting for the Japanese guy she knows is interested in her to ask her out. She spends many nights alone. In general, Japanese tend to think foreign women are very beautiful. And many Japanese suffer from a chronic lack of self-esteem In his mind, the Japanese man thinks, he’s not good enough or she’s out of his league. For many this can completely turn her off to dating Japanese guys and she goes back to her home country disappointed. On the other hand, I personally know several foreign women who got married to a Japanese and are very happy together.

Another option is working as a hostess. Young pretty foreign girls can have a very good time and make a lot money as hostesses at “snack bars.” Japanese men, usually rich ones will line up to take out such girls. These relationships tend to be shallow and she’s viewed more as a mistress he can brag about to his friends.

Marriage

“Omiai”, arranged marriages

Arranged marriages are still quite common in Japan. In times long past this was especially common between two wealthy families and the couple concerned had little or nothing to say about it. Americans might cringe at the whole idea and the lack of freedom, but today it’s rarely the case. Today it might be better termed an “arranged meeting” that might result in marriage. The couple concerned are under no obligation to get married. A young man or woman may have several omiai and refuse all. They are often arranged by a professional matchmaker, usually an older woman. Sometimes she may simply be a family friend or relative. The matchmaker takes many practical variables into consideration other than love; job, social standing, compatibility, and children are all carefully considered. Omiai are a good option for people who are shy or too busy to meet people. If successful, these meetings often result in long and happy marriages.

Long before getting married, Japanese have a formal engagement ceremony called “Uino”. This is a meeting and celebration between the two families and is complete with traditional decorations and food.

Marriage to a Foreigner

Getting married to a foreigner in Japan is not particularly difficult, but it does require some special paperwork. Japan has what are known as family registries. These are formal documents kept at city hall that list all the names of members of a particular family. When a woman gets married and takes her husbands name, her name is officially removed from her parent’s registry and added to her husband’s family’s. The problem is, foreigners can’t have family registries. Why?, well I don’t know. This was how it was when I got married. In these cases, they created a new family registry for my wife, now with my last name. And my children were added to this. But, my name does not appear anywhere on this registry. In a sense, I’m a member of my wife’s registry, in another sense, I don’t exist. But Japanese laws regarding foreigners are changing and this may all be different in the not too distant future, along with the Alien Registration Card (ARC) which all foreigners living in Japan must posses. These changes are not being done so much to give foreigners more equal rights and privileges, but to cut down on a mountain of extra paperwork that city halls and government workers must now deal with.

Most Japanese sleep on futons on the floor, which are quite comfortable, though many people sleep in beds, too. It’s quite common in Japan for babies and young children to sleep together in the same futon between the parents. I know what you’re thinking. Does this cut into the couple’s love life, well yes it does. However, there are many practical reasons for this arrangement. There may be a lack of space. But, especially if the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, the mother is already there. Nursing is made easy.

Dating Japanese

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2 Responses
  1. Nice article, you have a lot of knowledge about cultural nuances and japanese dating...


  2. Hold a hand or ask her if it is ok to hold a hand of her. This is the easiest way to know if she is really interested in you or if she really has a feeling for you. Japanese women will not really tell you in words or act like she really likes you even though she has a feeling for you. Like I said before, we are traditionally taught that we should not show emotion so openly in public even within the family. I am still in that way also and a lot of Japanese still do not show emotion like Western people do.

    - See more at: Now, here are three easy “To Do” tips for your first date with Japanese woman.


Funny cartoon of the day

Funny cartoon of the day