Nov 1, 2016

Dating and the Japanese Man

There are reasons why I write this article. There are lots of articles out there about Westerners dating Japanese women and what to expect. However, there are very few about dating the Japanese man and what to expect. After being in a relationship with a Japanese man I think that I know why. Very few Japanese men are willing to date Westerners. They are considered a rare breed in Japan. The Western man and the Japanese lady are far popular. This article was illustrated by myself.

1) They Like Us, But They Don't

Dating and the Japanese Man photo

So you are standing there in a bar and you see that really cute Japanese guy. You are really hoping that he will come over and talk to you, and then suddenly he disappears. Where did he go?

Well, if he was giving you the eye, then he probably did like you. However, that could be as far as you get. Most Japanese men think that the European and Western women are very beautiful. That is definitely true. Only a few men will actually come up and talk to you. These men are the rare exception. 

One of the things that I learnt from dating a Japanese man for nearly two years, is that they perceive European and Western women to be outspoken, loud, and bolshy. Yes, some of that may be true, but not all of us are like that. Like we would, they put us into a very stereotyped category. They may also be afraid that they would have to speak English. 

What a Japanese man would really want is a shy, timid, not very outspoken, not very confrontational woman, who dresses in a reserved manner. Everything that they want in a European and Western woman that they can find in Japanese women.

If you are interested in that Japanese man, then go up to him. Try to speak Japanese. You should ask for his number, or line, etc.

I got lucky. The man I dated came up to me and spoke to me. I asked for his line, and he asked me for a date.

2) The First Date

Dating and the Japanese Man photo

The chances that he will ask you on a date is next to zero. Put it down to ineptness, lack of social experience, or scared, the chances are slim. Save the waiting game. You will have a long wait. Do it yourself, but not forcefully. 

3) Work is Priority

Dating and the Japanese Man photo

Alas, again the work is priority comes up. In European and Western countries the work in most relationships is second. In Japan it is very much the opposite. The Japanese work system is so strict, and it's drilled into them from kindergarten that your job is the most important thing in your life (visit my two "Work in Japan" articles for more information about that) and that everything else is the bottom of the list. It is sad to say, but the men are bread winners and women are just considered baby making machines. Although recently people in Japan have started to marry for love, so the times are changing, but very slowly.

I had to learn that I had to be supportive and understanding of him. I had to wait. Whilst it can be increasingly frustrating, you just have to accept it, or move on.

4) Payment for Dates

In Western and European countries women like to display their independence and at least pay for something. Here though, it is the other way. Japanese men want to pay for everything and can be confused if women want to pay. 

For me I got quite lucky. My boyfriend respected the fact that I wanted independence, and I came from a country where it was given to me (thanks to the  Suffragettes chaining themselves up), so he opted to let me have it. Not all the time, just some of the time. So occasionally I was allowed to pay for everything. He always paid for coffee shop visits, and really expensive meals. Other times he let me give a contribution and not the whole bill.

5) P.D.A (Public Displays of Affection)

P.D.A only stretches to hand holding. Everything else is a big no no. I guess this is not so shocking.

6) Arguements

Dating and the Japanese Man photo

This I learned quickly. They hate confrontation. They will not argue, and they will not tell you if you have done something wrong. Now then, not everything is sorted via an arguement. I once told my boyfriend that it is really important to say to each other if we get upset by something, but to no avail. If you can let it go, then do that. It will be a waste of time giving the silent treatment or shouting, because he will not apologize (unless he really has to) and he will not fight back.

7) Being Pyschic

Japanese men do not communicate. They expect you to be able to read what they feel. That is always the way it has been in their society. Don't talk about their feelings, just expect the foreigner to know. That is near impossible for us to do that. Japanese women can because they too have been brought up that way.

8) Keeping it Quiet

This can be a huge problem. Japanese men prefer to keep the relationship quiet. This is because Japanese men are expected to marry Japanese women and it would be an embarrassment for them to be seen dating a foreigner, much less than Japanese women. It is hardly surprising, because the first foreign acceptance arrived only around sixty - seventy years ago in Yokohama. 

I remember asking my boyfriend at the time, "Why am I not allowed to meet your parents?", to which he replied, "It is because you are my personal life. It is my business and they will ask too many questions." To me that said a lot.

Bonus Point

Dating and the Japanese Man photo

Not all relationships end well in Japan. Have you ever heard of ghosting? For the Japanese it is socially/culturally acceptable. Ghosting is where the person who doesn't want the relationship anymore suddenly stops contacting you. The reason why they stop contacting you is because they hope that it will be "easier for you", they will be sparing you from "the pain" and that you assume you just "grew apart". In actual reality it is the reverse. What they are doing is making it easier for themselves, sparing themselves the pain, saving themselves the confrontation, and the guilt of having to be the one to call it off. This is how most relationships end here. Painful to recipient of the ghosting and easy for the other. For a foreigner it is not good emotionally and psychologically.

There are many other points. Mostly good. I have mainly just highlighted the parts that we would consider a little irritating, and maybe a little subjective. Do you have any experiences that you would like to talk about?



A twenty year old something, who came to experience working life and travel in Japan. What will she experience? What will she see? What will she do? Find out in this amazing travel blog and Jvlog!
I also have a daily updated Facebook Page! https://www.facebook.com/smallgirlbigjapan


  • JTsuzuki

    on Nov 2

    Interesting take on the subject! According to my Japanese husband, a Japanese man with a foreign girlfriend is seen to be 1) rich and/or 2) well endowed. Their weird beliefs about genital size stretch so far as my husband's coworkers inquiring as to my "capacity" early in his days working at his company. Result? I hate them and never have to meet them, and he gets to be known as Mr. Big. Mind you, they all think our daughter is gorgeous. Some of what you said holds true for my relationship, too-- like expectations of a psychic nature and general PDA, but because my guy spent puberty in England, he's a bit weird for here, I guess. Most of the really successful relationships between foreign women and Japanese men that I've seen involve guys who spent serious time abroad. My guy doesn't mind having fights, loudly, in public, in English, but I do. When we started dating, I earned more than he did (by a lot), so I paid for a lot of things. Now that I'm the stay-at-home type mostly, he's stuck paying for everything. One of the funniest moments of our pre-relationship (we worked together, both nursing crushes for 6 months before I made the first move) was when we were talking about Bones and he mentioned that some Japanese men find Caucasian women very attractive. I explained that there are some of us who fancy them, too. Then we both walked away red faced and confused. Because we're both super-introverted and awkward. This is why it took 6 months to get things started. lol.

  • Tomuu

    on Nov 4

    I'll jump in here as a man, if I may, although my situation is the opposite way round. On the arguing point; what tends to happen with me and the partner is that so many potential confrontations kind of get brushed aside, or stored away somewhere usually labelled at as 'well, we're front opposite ends of the world'. Then I think the storage space reaches over capacity and we end up have a proper argument in which she speaks really quickly in Japanese, and I can't quite keep up with what the problem is. Maybe, as you say, it would be better to address these smaller issues as and when they come up. Although we could end up spending a lot of time doing that!

  • helloalissa

    on Nov 4

    Do you know about http://howibecametexan.com/ and her Youtube channel? I recommend it. Anyway, there are actually a ton of us westerners/other non-Japanese married to Japanese men, including a small community of us on City-Cost. I know of several American women who married Japanese men around 40 years ago, despite being judged like crazy. There are tons of stereotypes, but I don't think men 'not talking' is strictly a Japanese thing. Some men talk a lot, others don't, and the point is, men will talk when they want to and feel comfortable sharing their feelings in that way. A man might be doing something without using words to show discontent, but it's just a different way of communicating.

  • smallbigjapan

    on Nov 4

    @helloalissa Yes, I know who she is. So I don't know where you are from, but I'm from the UK and men will speak up if they have to. However, I was not looking for debate/critique of this article. I was looking for other people to share their experiences to compare. A lot of this is based off my experience and what I have seen elsewhere. The more experience information there is out there, the better.

  • smallbigjapan

    on Nov 4

    @Tomuu The same kind of happened with me and my ex, which spurred part of this article. It led us to have an arguement in Hakone in the street. Not a shouting match. Just a very heated arguement.

  • smallbigjapan

    on Nov 4

    @JTsuzuki Wow! That is quite a thing for his Japanese coworkers to say. My ex opted to not tell his coworkers bar a few.

  • helloalissa

    on Nov 6

    @smallbigjapan Sorry if that was seen as a critique - just from my perspective (dated a handful of Japanese men before marrying one), most of the Japanese men I've met have been straightforward enough, at least after initially breaking the ice (or a drink or two), so I think it depends on the person. I agree with JTsuzuki, it's a lot easier with someone who has lived abroad, for better language and cultural understanding. Maybe also because they're already seen as unique for doing so.

  • Ayarin

    on Sep 10

    Hello! My only problem in this blog is only point 3. Like I love raising children and I may leave my work for a couple of years so I can give the priority to them yet not working at all? Nah that's imposible for me. One of my goals in life is going to a great college and then work someplace I like so my question is when you said waiting you meant LITERALLY waiting at home so he could come from work or waiting figuratively for sth in your relationship? Because I don't mind having babies or him having a more difficult job than mine but not working at all is a huge no no in my life. Have a great day!

  • smallbigjapan

    on Sep 11

    @Ayarin I think that you misunderstood point 3. I'm talking of foreigners having to learn to wait for a Japanese man who makes their job the most important thing instead of the relationship, etc. It has nothing to do with babies or working women. Foreigners believe relationships first and work second. Most Japanese men have work as their first and relationship second.

  • MGM01

    on Mar 9

    I have a big question because I have no idea of what to think about a situation. Sometimes my boyfriend and I bring up the "marriage" topic and he has told me he wants me to eventually move on to his home when I get to Japan and told me I'd be a good wife. We even talked about cultural differences between western Catholic marriages and Japan and how would it be. I'd like to say that yes I'd be more than happy to become his wife one day but it sounds pushy and odd. And with all this talk I don't know what to think ... if he would like the same or not or if it's just a exchange of perspective... What do you think? Pls!

  • csherlin

    on Jun 21

    Well, everyone says Japanese men avoid sharing their emotions and feelings or that it takes time for them to ask women out. The thing is, my best friend in highschool was Japanese and although he grew up here (not Japan), he was pretty much like any other Japanese guy because his parents did grow up in Japan. Then I met this Japanese guy who moved here because of his job back in March, on the day we met in person he straighforwardly said he wanted to be my boyfriend, we talk every day through whatsapp but not all day long or very deep conversations and we have only gone out for like 4 times but he keeps saying he's my future husband and he really likes me and all that, he even wanted to meet my mom the other day she was in town (to which I was like, no way dude! too soon, you're not even my bf yet) . Is this normal? Should I take him seriously? The marriage thing I take it with a grain of salt and I'm not even contemplating it but I wonder if I should trust him? LOL, what do your experience tell you people? Help me :)

  • Shine3212

    on Oct 29

    I had 2 japanese bf recently. One ghosted me after 3 months. Another one ghosted me yesterday. The first one is much more painful cause i fell inlove with that guy. Its too u fair.