About Me

Yuta Aoki is a Japanese author, blogger and YouTuber. He writes about Japanese culture, inter-cultural communication, dating, and travel.
His latest book, There’s Something I Want to Tell You: True Stories of Dating in Japan, deals with intercultural dating in Japan.
His article about sexless Japan was shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook.
He has been to over 30 countries, from Eastern Europe to South East Asia, where he enjoyed talking to local people and listening to their stories.

He dates internationally, although he’s slightly worried that he might spend more time writing about dating than actually doing it.

My brief life story

I grew up in Hiroshima, where the US had dropped the atomic bomb during WWII. When I was little, grown-ups would often tell us about the war. Sometimes, A-bomb survivors came to our school to share their experiences.

Hiroshima has Peace Memorial Park, and it was our favourite hang-out spot, not because of the history, but because of its central location. Every time I went to the park, I saw the A-Bomb Dome, which was partially destroyed by the A-Bomb. To a child, the dome looked almost sacred.

People in Hiroshima didn’t have any resentment towards American people. They merely told us that the war was bad and should never be repeated.

Discovering the outside world

When I was 13, I went to the States on a one-month homestay programme. I didn’t speak any English. Sure, we had English classes in junior high school, but for a Japanese speaker, one year was barely enough to be able to hold a decent conversation.

How bad was my English? I didn’t even know the word ‘say’. Yes, ‘say’. It’s a very basic word. I remember my host family trying to explain ‘I miss you’. They tried hard, but I didn’t get it. It was difficult because Japanese didn’t have the same expression.

One of the few phrases I learnt in the US was ‘never mind’. My host brother always said it when he gave up explaining things to me in English.

Despite my quasi non-existent English, I really enjoyed the homestay. After coming back to Japan, I started thinking about studying in the States for a year. Fortunately, my high school had a study abroad programme. But unfortunately, places were limited and I wasn’t chosen. I had never been more disappointed in my life.

Getting serious with English

I was jealous of those who were chosen for the study abroad programme. I felt as if they had taken away my future, because I had been daydreaming about going to the US and becoming fluent in English. The thought of them speaking English fluently after a year was unbearable.

The only way I could overcome the disappointment was learning English on my own.

But I was clueless. I wasn’t even sure that one could learn a foreign language completely on one’s own. I didn’t have any role models around me.

One day, I had an idea: reading books in English. If the most effective way of learning a language was immersing yourself in it, reading books would certainly be one way. I went to a bookshop and bought a book that looked easy enough. It was That’s Not What I Meant by Deborah Tannen.

The book wasn’t really easy, and it took me a long time to finish it. But when I finished it, I felt my method was finally working.

Being an introvert

I didn’t have many friends in school, if I had friends at all. I didn’t have a lot in common with my classmates. I was interested in modern philosophy, traditional music around the world, travelling, etc. I was always reading books, sometimes during classes. Reading books was my way of connecting to people who had great life experience and knowledge.

Once, I was interested in Arabic letters. I would practice writing them when I was bored during classes. My classmates must have thought I was a weird guy.

Backpacking in India

When I was 17, I went backpacking through South India for two months. It was my first solo trip.

South India was a very friendly place. A lot of people talked to me: restaurant owners, juice sellers, passengers on the train, guests at hotels, random people on the street – everyone was curious about me. In Japan, nobody had talked to me like that. The cultural difference was very interesting.

I came across western travellers once in a while. I met a British guy and I told him I was 17. He said, ‘You have a good mind’. I still remember the exact wording.

I also met an American guy at a music concert. We were both interested in Indian classical music, so he took me to his place and showed me musical instruments he had bought in India. He was so happy to talk to me that he invited me to dinner. He footed the bill. He knew I was only a penniless 17 year old after all.

Learning French

In my early 20s, I came across an interview with a French musician in the International Herald Tribune. She was called Carla Bruni and had been a supermodel before she made her first album. In her interview, she said she would deliberately record mistakes because being imperfect would make her more relatable. I thought, ‘she is very insightful. I definitely should listen to her songs.’

When I heard her voice on Quelqu’un m’a dit, the first song of her album, I immediately liked her. I would listen to her day and night, and I developed a strong interest in French. But I was hesitant to learn a new language because I knew it would take a long time.

Eventually, I gave in to the temptation.

Studying abroad

When I decided to go to university, the first thing I thought about was the study abroad programme. Initially, I was thinking of Britain, but my French was becoming better, so I chose France. I liked the idea of going to a non-English-speaking country. I’d always been fond of doing something different from everybody else.

I was very excited because for the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to live abroad.

What I really learnt in France

I studied philosophy and literature in Lyon for one year. There were a lot of international students (mostly European) in my university. I absolutely loved meeting people from different countries. Unlike when I was in high school, I made a lot of friends. We all spoke French, and there was a strong sense of community amongst French speaking expats.

I also realised I was quite ignorant about the world. I asked my Brazilian friends a very dumb question: what language do Brazilians speak? They answered patiently, ‘Portuguese’. Later, I found out that Portuguese was a romance language like French, which made me curious about the language.

One day, my Brazilian friends took to me to a mini-carnival parade in Lyon. I saw a Brazilian group playing samba. As soon as I heard them, I fell in love with Brazilian music.

The second semester in France, I took a Portuguese class because I wanted understand the lyrics of Brazilian songs. By that time, I was regularly going to a local Brazilian party. I asked my friends for song recommendations, and I would listen to Brazilian music all the time.

I made some French friends through Brazilian music. One day, I was walking down the street and bumped into one of those friends. She said, ‘Hey, I live close by, would you like a cup of tea?’ So I went to her house.

She told me she was going to a Latin club that night, and asked me if I wanted to come. I was curious. I had never been to a Latin club before.

What I saw in the club was something entirely new. Men and women would pair up and dance together. The dancing looked very sophisticated. I tried to figure out their steps, but it was too complicated to follow. It was as if they were performing magic tricks.

My friend told me the style of the music and the dance was called Salsa. I was greatly interested, and decided to learn how to dance Salsa one day.

A few months later, I was taking weekly Salsa lessons.

So that was it: I went to France and learnt Portuguese and dancing Salsa. What happened to philosophy and literature? Well, I forgot all about them.

Post-France life

My life can be divided into pre-France and post-France. France made me realise I would thrive in a multicultural environment. After France, I sought international communities in Japan. I started making new friends. It felt great: I’d never known what was like to have many friends because I had had a rather solitary young and early adulthood.

Writing a book

In 2013, I was on the Narita Express on my way to the airport. I was going to Jamaica to spend the New Year holiday. I was thinking about my life because I felt I hadn’t achieved much in my twenties.

I’d always wanted to write a book, and suddenly, I realised all I had to do was start writing; I already had what it took to write a book. By the time I got off the train, I already had book ideas.

I chose to write about multicultural dating in Japan because I thought I had something valuable to offer. I knew it was hard to find reliable information in English on the subject. A lot of what I found on the Internet were disrespectful comments towards Japanese women, except for a few good blog articles.

Writing the book was nothing but fun. My favourite part was interviewing people. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their life stories, and I believe they are worth sharing. The best way of learning something is learning from your mistakes; the second best way is from somebody else’s mistakes. That is why reading books is so valuable.

My book is called There’s Something I Want to Tell You: True Stories about Mixed Dating in Japan, and available on Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks.

Wow, you’ve read this far? I think you should like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter

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Henry | @fotoeins
7 years ago

A contact tweeted about your article clarifying some of the assumptions/misconceptions surrounding Japan's decreasing birth-rate. I have to say that your use of very clear plots to press your points and qualifications about the data and their treatment for your plots was what made me quite happy, owing to past scientific training. Thanks for your post! You've got great dreams and goals; keep building on them. There's just too much to do, and so little time to do them all – but it'll sure be fun trying.

Benny
Benny
4 years ago

Yuta

I cant watch the learn japanesse video on vimeo using pc or phone
may you help me? 🙂

Yash
Yash
2 years ago
Reply to  Benny

Maybe because Vimeo is blocked in your country, Try using VPN

Alex
Alex
3 years ago

Hello Yuta. I would love to talk to you online. How can I reach you? I studied in Japan at Chubu Daigaku. I love your videos! I also have some stories to share about race and America versus Japan.

Diku Desai
7 years ago

I've written a piece regarding the misinformation about Japan. I've also lived in Japan for two years, and am decent at speaking Japanese. It's inspiring to see a non-native with a great command of the English language, and I think you have a pretty well-thought-out blog. I've already liked your FB post, and if you get a chance, please take a look at my writing here: <a href="http://diku.svbtle.com/those-crazy-japanese"&gt; . I'd like to see what you think. Thanks!

Genesis
Genesis
6 years ago

HI. I´m 15 years old and honduran. I also want to learn programming. Read lots and lots of books and watch lots and lots of anime. Speak Japanese and Russian (at least). Travel. Go to space. Reduce my introversion. Find my half sister in China. Do something extreme. Make genuine and weird friends I can treat like family….blah blah.
Yeah, time's too short and I haven´t done much. Even so, I often think that whatever we do is pretty insignificant. Ha.

Dean Van Greunen
4 years ago
Reply to  yuta

Really? Does Japan have a good market for softwae engineers?

I'm a software engineer and AI researcher (biomechinical electronic threaded self weighting AI Nerouns) BETSWAIN, its a design i've being working on for the past 7years, i've being a programmer for 8years and a technician for 5years. I'm currently work as a software engineer in South Africa and one day between the next, 1 to 4 years i would like to visit Japan and have a holiday (perhaps live there permanently and work) i've started studying Japanese 3month back and i can read, and write in Hiragana and Katakana. As well i've slowly got the hang of 50+- Kanji, i speak english and afrikaans as a native speak. English being my first langauge. Followed by x86 and x64 Assembly, C, C++, C#, Java, PHP, MySQL, Python, HTML/CSS and Javascript. I've used over 50 different development frameworks and developed for more than 100 of the brand leading plateforms out as of today. While i wait on my dev order for the Microsoft Hololens dev device valued at 40000 ZAR (South Afican Rand). Yuto, perhaps in the near future if i catch you in Japan. We can go for a coffee or a bottle of russian vodka 🙂 Thanks for all these great vids and have a happy year to come. Cheers (bye between friends)

Josias Flores
9 months ago

Hey Yuta I’m Josias and I bought your premium account in June and payed til September which is 4 months and now it charged me in October why is that?

Michael
Michael
1 month ago
Reply to  yuta

Reply to Yuta

Sarah
Sarah
3 years ago
Reply to  Genesis

Hi Yuta, I m Sarah n I live in Singapore. I had come across a few of your videos on YouTube n I was impressed by your English. You still have a slight japanese accent but it's amazing compared to my Japanese friends who are still at the elementary level of English learning. I love Japan. If you have a chance, do visit Singapore and try our local food.

Jna Corre
Jna Corre
1 year ago
Reply to  Genesis

Hello Yuta! My name is Jna (pronounced like Janae.)

Thank you for taking the time to make and post your videos! It’s truly amazing and looking forward to your future videos 😀

Ali
Ali
6 years ago

This is Ali. (Friend of R_n_ Mi_r_ and we have met also. (I would be interested to know when you book comes out. Have you considered the price?) and will it be English or Japanese (Both Japanese and English is ok but not so comfortable with my own Japanese skills at the moment)

Your English is superb!

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Look up pigglesdigaijin on youtube. He's Jamaican and lives in Japan. Also, tell gimmeabreakman on youtube about your book and see if he'll let you on his interview show called 2.5 oyaji's.

Gina
6 years ago

I found your blog via Grace aka Texan in Tokyo. I loved that you published a well informed book about dating in Japan. I've had so many [mis]adventures with dating in Japan, it's nice to see some success stories! I write about them in my blog if you're interested in a laugh and I will definitely be checking out your book!

I also feel the same as you. By birth, I'm all ready an international child. My mother is Mexican and my father is American-Italian. I grew up in America, while my mother taught me Spanish and my Italian grandfather taught me Italian.

I also feel more vibrant and alive in international communities. The world is such a beautiful place.

Ukey
Ukey
6 years ago

Mr. Aoki, thank you for sharing your background experiences, and that got me thinking something: I want to learn anything I'm interested without thinking about the benefit I can get or the cost I would have to offer.

I am Japanese, in my early twenties, and I also have friends in all the continents and I have friends from over 56 countries through studying abroad. I do believe English has made my life so exciting and widen my possibility so much too.
Reading your articles I started to feel I want to be good at English to the next level, to which I can write actual articles like you. Two years ago, I was studying Marketing in OH and wrote a lot of reports, like using sources to support ideas or collecting deta by doing interviews. But now, I graduated and don't use English anymore in Japan (academically), sadly I no longer have skills to write a report. I thought going to graduate school could be the only way to improve writing skills, but it looks like writing a blog might not be a bad idea to improve my writing skills.
It was good to bump into your website by chance. I will try things I always wanted but never did, by making lists I have done and want to do in the near future. Programming might be one of them, though I hate numbers or anything so complicated.
Well, I just wanted to tell you that you inspired me. Thanks.

Laurence
Laurence
6 years ago

Aoki.. Familiar.

My father went to Japan 7 yrs ago.
And he met this guy named "Aoki". They became best friends immediately.
Since you guys only use Family names when calling someone. We never knew his first name.
Kinda sad, 'cause I want to find him when I'm finished with my college.
Anyway, during my father's stay.
Mr. Aoki would often visit my father at his hotel and invite him to go out.
Unfortunately, My father has to return to the Philippines within 2 weeks.
Mr. Aoki asked my father if he can stay a bit longer, but my father's manager said no.
So….. Mr. Aoki went back to the Philippines with my father. 😀
He would even call my father's mother " Mama ". quite funny but awesome.
Hearing my father's story made me interested in Japan.
Japan's cultures and stuff. I wanted to find Mr. Aoki though I don't even know his whole name. And he's too old. He was like 50 or 60 when I met him or I don't know.
Sorry for all of this. I just wanted to share my father's story.
and I'm interested about Japan and no one can stop me!

Mayten
Mayten
5 years ago

Hi Aoki, I'm from Peru. To be honest I don't that kind of person who always leave a comment xd but I can't believe how similar our list are. I'm struggling with English right now, as everybody I'm just want to be fluent , that's why I've started to read an English book named 'the story of my life' by Hellen Keller 🙂
On the other hand , I'm so shy while trying to speak to Japanese men (since I study Japanese and I find them particularly cute (*˘︶˘*). In addition, I expect to be able to rap in Japanese someday and also to dance property ( I used to practice korean choreographies at my dorm with not very good results hahaha). And maybe to finish an entire and decent song in piano. Btw very nice blog 😀

Bubu
Bubu
5 years ago

Just discovered your blog because Google told me to go there when I asked him if Japanese people could have naturally curly hair (…is that a dumb question ?) and ended up on your article about racism. Then I decided to read your presentation, and found out you had been "studying" in Lyon for a year !
I'm from Lyon, so now I'm curious, so maybe I'm in the same university you've been ?
I noticed there were some Japanese students, and I'd love get to know them, but I'm pretty bad at making friends so I don't know what to do to talk to them. :<

I'd love to travel to Japan one day, but I'm pretty scared because the only foreign language I can speak is English, and I'm worried Japanese people are pretty bad at it… And I can't speak nor read Japanese, at all.

Have a nice day and keep up the good work ! 🙂

mikael
mikael
5 years ago

when are you coming down to maldives?

Jamie
5 years ago

Hi, Yuta.
I've just finished exploring some of your interesting experimental YouTube videos. I found you from Quora first. You've made such a nice blog here! I'll try to come more often from now on 🙂
I'll be arriving in Japan probably next Apr and will stay for two months. Just travelling and see how things are like in Japan. I've been learning Japanese on my own and sometimes with a group of people that are mixed with native Japanese speakers and non-native speakers. I found it harder than I thought. The reason is I don't have as many chances to speak Japanese as I wish and I keep forgetting what I used to know. 🙁 and Kanji is another reason.
Hope I get better by the time I get there!
Nice blog.

Regards,
Jamie

KatLovesOsaka
5 years ago

You remind me a lot of myself.

Manuela
Manuela
5 years ago

hello Yuta is great this project of yours, I'm starting to learn new languages, I am improving my english and I want to learn six languages ​​more, among these is the Japanese, I'm from Colombia (I speak Spanish) and aspire to go to college to study degree in languages ​​(in about two years or so) meanwhile I want to handle some basics of the languages ​​I want to learn, what you're doing is wonderful and very helpful, so I will take quite, greetings from Colombia 🙂

李家铭
5 years ago

Hi,Yuta.I'm a Chinese boy.My English name is Jimmy.Today I see you video in a Chinese net.At that time,I think Japan is a funny country!I want to go to Japan in 2017 when
I graduate from colleage.And I want see more video about International students‘ life in Japan.And you eyebrow is very interesting-。-!

Kyou
Kyou
5 years ago

Hello Aoki! That sounds like a very interesting life! I can share similar thoughts on the dancing; I have been searching for Korean pop dancing here, but am having no hope! But also… I am very clumsy and awkward when it comes to expressing myself so I don't think I'd be very good at dancing haha! I'm glad you got to do some things that you have wanted to do, I'm sure the rest of the things will be fulfilled as well!

The only thing really on my list is to move to Japan, and live somewhere that looks a bit old? I can't explain, but I love kinda village-like? Somewhere that looks like Eigamura, but I'm not sure where or if that is still possible. (I research, but can be difficult for me to notice which one is real or fake _ _ ; ) I want to be able to speak and write in Japanese, but was so clueless so I'm glad I have found your youtube, and pages… I am born with an Italian mother, and Salvadoran/Japanese father and learned about who I am when I was like in first grade! I'm glad I learned, because I took an interest in these different places, but to me Japan feels like the one I'd love most. I hope I will be able to learn, and I will definitely be eager to. : )

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

Hi I am Jacku Lim from Singapore. I find you by chance in the YouTube when I was searching to learn some Japanese language. I find Japanese language very difficult to learn and understand.
I have been trying ! . Now I know just the basic.

Singapore people all speak English. Have you been to Singapore. ? I love Japan and make frequent visits there. I have difficulty finding Japanese friends who can speak English and hang out with me.

I read your life experience and find you a very adventurous and lively and strong person. I admire you and get inspire by your attitude.

Lastly I like to get to know you more. I hope to meet you one day. By the way I am Singaporean Chinese Asian , thanks .

Jonna
Jonna
5 years ago

The things i have on my list is to learn japanese, i also wanna visit japan someday^-^ Other things i want to do is to travel around the world to see cool animals like whales, dolphins, pandas and many more^^

Pallavi
Pallavi
5 years ago

Hey Yuta!

Happy New Year!

It's so nice to read about all the amazing things that you have done in your exciting life. I love watching your videos. My love for Nipon started cause of anime and it only keeps growing.

I'm from Hyderabad (a city in South India; I still can't believe you came here when you were only 17), India

Take care,
Pallavi

Graham
Graham
5 years ago

I just discovered your youtube channel and wanted to send you some compliments on your work. I have spent some extensive time in Japan, travelling and staying with friends I made on my journey there. I found the Japanese people extremely warm and welcoming. I admire your culture and of feeling safe wherever I was. Where there were language barriers in communication, technology compensated and broke down some of those walls. I was never so thankful enough that I chose to install Japanese/English dictionaries on a borrowed iPhone while travelling. When communication got stuck on words we had references to guide us as to what we were trying to say. That combined with tones of voice, facial expressions, and body language meant we always found a way to communicate and get the meanings across.

I fear I am rambling so will end this now. Just wanted to say keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing more honest and frank opinions/thoughts from the Japanese people you interview to understand more about Japan, it's people and it's culture. It is always interesting to learn about other cultures to broaden more understanding in one's self. People spend too much time focusing on differences. There will always be differences, but if everything was the same it would be a very boring world. One thing humanity needs to wake up on are the many similarities and core thoughts/ideas etc. which link our communities together. Thank you!