Are you interested in dating Japanese women? Recently, I interviewed a lot of people for my book who had dated or married Japanese women. Let me share with you some of the interesting stuff they told me about Japanese women!
Japanese women don’t always say what they really mean
It was a cold December day. Andre, a Jamaican man, went on a trip with his Japanese girlfriend. They walked around the lake to enjoy the beautiful scenery. They wanted to explore the area more, but in order to do that they had to take the ropeway. A lot of people were queueing. They joined the queue, even though they were a bit put off by its length.
Soon they realised that it was just too cold.
‘Do you want to leave?’ Andre asked her after five minutes.
‘I want to see the stuff up there, but it’s cold. I’ll wait with you if you want to wait. But if you want to leave, let’s leave,’ his girlfriend said.
‘All right, let’s leave,’ Andre said, and they left.
This exchange seemed innocent enough to Andre, until a few months later when their relationship got tense. In the course of a conversation where she accused him of doing all the wrong things, she brought up the incident, saying that she had actually wanted to stay, and blamed him for not taking her hint.
Looking back, that was just one of their numerous miscommunications. Often, she would say something she didn’t mean, and Andre took her literally.
In Japan, people tend to rely on non-verbal cues more than the literal meaning of messages. These non-verbal cues are not obvious to everybody. Andre’s case was misfortunate because he had a particularly direct communication style and his ex-girlfriend had a particularly indirect communication style.
It can be difficult to find a healthy, long-term relationship in a bar
James is a British man who is said to have slept with more than 100 Japanese women. When I asked him what kind of advice he would give to western guys, he said ‘Don’t find them in a bar.’
James remembers meeting a Japanese girl in an Irish pub in Tokyo. He dated her, but then he found out she had been cheating on him. ‘I should’ve known better because I met her in a bar,’ James says. He broke up with her.
That wasn’t the end of the story. Six months later, he bumped into her again. He still liked her, so he decided to give it another try. Everything seemed fine this time, but one day, she suddenly broke up with him. He was confused.
A year later, he ran into her again in Shibuya. She was with a western guy.
‘This is my husband,’ she said.
‘Congratulations. When did you get married?’ James asked.
‘A year ago,’ she answered.
Suddenly, everything was clear. When he was dating her the second time, she was cheating on her husband. It was James that she was cheating with.
His experience doesn’t seem too uncommon. Andre, the aforementioned Jamaican guy, also realised that he tended to have bad experiences with girls he met in bars. He was always looking for a serious relationship, but the girls from those bars didn’t want the same thing.
The ‘bars’ they talk about are western-style bars which are relatively rare in Japan. Some of the women who frequent them are looking specifically for western men and not all of them are looking for a long-term (or honest) relationship.
There’s nothing wrong with short-term dating and hook-ups. The problems here are the differences in expectation and the dishonesty.
Being hesitant is not always a bad sign
When Charles, a British guy, met her, he immediately liked her. She was a rock musician but she dressed very nicely. (He says that rock musicians tend to not pay attention to clothes.) She and Charles hit it off well, and they exchanged contact details. She also gave him her CD.
He listened to her CD over and over again. The more he listened, the more he liked her. A few days later, Charles sent her a message: ‘Hey, let’s go out again sometime.’ To this, she politely replied, ‘No thanks.’
Her lack of interest wasn’t the only problem. Charles didn’t speak much Japanese, and she didn’t speak any English at all. In fact, she didn’t have any interest in western culture. Unlike other musicians, she didn’t listen to American or British music. She was a very traditional Japanese girl.
But Charles didn’t give up. He got tickets for a concert of UA, her favourite Japanese artist, and asked her to come. She said yes. Things were slowly starting to work out. Eventually, he won her over.
Now, they are happily married and have a daughter.
Japanese women do date South Asian men
Do Japanese women date Indian and other South Asian guys? Well, yes. The easiest way to confirm this is to visit Indian restaurants in Japan. Some of these restaurants are managed by Japanese-Indian couples. (I know this because the Japanese wives tend to be very friendly and often talk to me.)
Danuja, a Sri Lankan man who has lived in Japan for 11 years, had two long-term relationships with Japanese girls prior to his current Japanese girlfriend.
He met his girlfriend at his friend’s party. They became friends first and it took six months for them to start dating. They have now been together for one and a half years. Danuja seems to like to take time to get to know the girl first before dating her and that seems to work well with some Japanese girls.
They can have a very specific ‘taste’
Joshua, a Kenyan man, has mixed experiences of dating in Japan. He sometimes feels that being an African can be a disadvantage. When he tells university girls that he is from Kenya, many of them just remark, ‘Is that in Africa? I’d love to see the animals!’ and move on to talk to European guys.
In a club, he often meets girls who are specifically interested in African-Americans. When they learn that Joshua isn’t from the states, they quickly lose interest. Once, his Tanzanian friend told him, ‘Hey, I’m meeting this girl and I’ve told her I’m from the US. So don’t tell her I’m from Tanzania.’ According to Joshua, a lot of African men pretend to be American so that they can get girls.
Despite that, Joshua has dated several Japanese girls. He speaks Japanese well, and he thinks that helps a lot.
Be wary of excessive interest
‘Hey, I’m in a bar in Shinjuku. You want to join me?’ Andre, the Jamaican man, once received a text from a Japanese girl he had met a couple of days earlier.
He wanted to join her, so before long he found himself in the bar.
They were having a normal conversation when the girl suddenly grabbed him, hugged him and kissed him right on his neck. He was a bit taken aback. What does she want? From his experience in Japan, Andre guessed that she either wanted to have sex with him or date him.
He assumed the latter, so he started dating her. They had gone out a couple of times, but it didn’t take long for her to become flaky. She would change plans at the last minute, and eventually she stopped contacting him.
One day, Andre’s friend shared a photo on Facebook. Andre saw a familiar face in that photo. Apparently, the girl had been spending time with his friend in her home town. When Andre asked her about it, she admitted that she had kissed his friend.
Andre talked to his friend about what had happened. ‘You know, she did the same thing to me,’ Andre said. ‘Well, I didn’t know that. I guess I’ll just back off,’ his friend said.
It turned out that she had never had any intention of having a boyfriend: she just wanted to have sex.
Similar things can happen the other way round. Kenny, a Canadian man, met a lot of Japanese women in Tokyo who showed intense interest in him. ‘I felt super-human,’ he says. ‘When I went out to clubs, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.’
Kenny didn’t mention that he was married (to a Japanese woman) and looking for sexual intimacy that his marriage didn’t provide.
Japanese women can be accommodating
Frank, an American man, dated many Russian women before meeting his current Japanese girlfriend. Compared to the Russian women he dated, Frank finds her very accommodating. For instance, when he wants to see a certain film, she usually goes with what he wants.
While this is largely a pleasant experience, Frank sometimes wants her to have opinions. He would be happy to fulfil her wishes. Sometimes, he wants to do something for her, but he doesn’t really know what she wants.
On the other hand, Frank thinks that her non-confrontational, laid-back nature can work well for their relationship. One of the things he likes about her is that she doesn’t ask dangerous, leading questions such as ‘Who is this girl in your photo?’ ‘It’s nice, because it means she trusts me,’ he says.
Some might want a green card
Andre, the Jamaican man, met a Japanese girl in a chat room. At that time, he lived in the States and she lived in Japan. Both wanted to live in the other’s country, so Andre came up with a very practical solution:
‘Why don’t we get married?’ Andre suggested. She could live in the States with him for a while, and after, he would live in Japan with her.
The Japanese girl was surprised but accepted the offer. They started married life in the States. However, the more time they spent together, the more they realised that they didn’t have much in common.
Then came the worst bit: she didn’t want to go back to Japan. Andre’s plan had failed. He was still stuck in the States.
Japan is a relatively well-off country, so a Japanese woman won’t usually marry a western man for a better life. Nonetheless, some Japanese women are interested in western culture and might marry men in the hope of living in a western country.
But a genuine, fulfilling relationship is totally possible
Marvin, another Jamaican man, met a Japanese woman in the university cafeteria when he was studying in the US. Neither of them was particularly interested in the other’s country, but they got along well because of a shared interest in music and films.
They became good friends. Marvin would defend her when American people made fun of her Japanese accent. She really appreciated his gesture.
Eventually they started dating.
Marvin had to go back to Jamaica after his university course was over. She stayed because she had some more time left. After he said goodbye to her at the airport, he found himself alone. Suddenly, he started crying. He didn’t expect that. He wasn’t the kind of guy who would easily cry. He realised how much he missed her.
Oddly enough, an opportunity to go to Japan came up in 2005. Marvin jumped at it right away. Ten years later, they are happily married. Having gone through a long-distance relationship, they found that their bond had become stronger.
If you are interested in dating in Japan, I would recommend my book There’s Something I Want to Tell You: True Stories of Mixed Dating in Japan.
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