Navigating Love: A Guide to Dating in Japan

By Olivia Tanaka | May 28, 2024 

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    Dating in Japan as a foreigner can be quite a different experience from what you're used to. Cultural nuances shape the dynamics of romantic relationships, making it essential to understand customs and social norms. In this extensive guide to dating in Japan, we will cover the details of Japan’s dating scene, challenges for foreigners, where to meet people, and insight from those with first-hand experience, so you can start off on the right foot.

    This article is a subsection of our extensive series on Learning Japanese.

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    Tradition to Today: Japan’s Dating Scene


    Dating Customs in Japan



    The term omiai refers to a traditional matchmaking process used to meet potential marriage partners. Two individuals are introduced to each other through a formal gathering orchestrated by a family member, acquaintance, or matchmaker. These events are held to analyze compatibility and emphasize familial approval. Although it is considered outdated, omiai are still held today. They are similar to Western matchmaking practices but often take a more formal approach. Many people confuse omiai with arranged marriages, but in reality, they simply introduce you to potential partners.


    Kokuhaku means a romantic confession of feelings. Koku means announcement and haku means white; together they translate into white announcement which symbolizes a sincere expression of one's emotions to another.  For example, a typical kokuhaku might involve someone saying, "I have feelings for you" or "Will you be my girlfriend/boyfriend?" You can find examples of these confessions in various Japanese dramas or movies. In Japan, both girls and boys can make these confessions, but it's more common for males to take the initiative. While the custom may seem traditional, it is still a part of modern Japanese dating culture. 


    The word gokon refers to a blind group date. These gatherings consist of an equal number of men and women and are typically dinners. Participants enjoy a relaxed environment and hope to acquire the phone number of whoever they got along with the best. While the primary purpose of gokon is to meet potential romantic partners, it can be a great way to meet new people and expand your social circle. Gokon is still quite popular in Japan and has gained great traction in the West.


    Want to be prepared for dating in Japan? Check out our article on What You Should Know Before Dating a Japanese Girl.

    Gender Roles and Dynamics

    When starting to date in Japan, you may be curious about how gender roles and dynamics are similar to or differ from those in your home country. While you may find a resemblance in some norms, Japan tends to be more traditional and conformist


    Men are often expected to take the reigns when initiating romantic pursuits, such as asking someone on a date or expressing their interest through communication, gift-giving, and acts of service. These expectations come from Japan’s societal norms that categorize men as the provider. Conversely, women are supposed to demonstrate modesty and restraint, particularly during the beginning stages of a relationship. They often convey their interest through subtle cues and signals. However, social attitudes have evolved, empowering more women to initiate romantic interactions with men. Overall, men should anticipate making the first move but should not be surprised if a woman chooses to pursue them. 


    Similar to initiating interactions, men are expected to take the lead in communication when dating in Japan. Women often take a more passive and reserved stance in conversations, which is a product of their upbringing and traditional Japanese values. You can expect conversations to follow a pattern where men lead the discussion and women respond how they see fit. However, shifts in social attitudes have resulted in a more balanced approach to communicating. Some individuals seek equal and active participation in conversations, regardless of gender. Despite these advancements, traditional norms persist and influence many individuals when navigating the Japanese dating scene. 


    Men are also expected to take the lead when making decisions. Whether it is choosing a date spot, determining the trajectory of the relationship, or initiating physical intimacy, men are traditionally meant to be in control. On the other hand, women typically go along with the decisions of their male counterparts, displaying a passive role in the decision-making process. Although many couples now strive to make mutual decisions, remnants of traditional gender roles are still prevalent. 

    Financial Responsibility 

    When dating in Japan, there is a historical, societal expectation for men to provide the finances, which includes paying for meals, dates, gifts, and entertainment. This assumption stems from the traditional notion of masculinity that men are the providers. However, there has been a slight shift in these dynamics as more couples embrace an egalitarian approach. Many men and women in Japan hold corporate positions and choose to contribute to the costs of dating. Nonetheless, traditional gender roles are still influential, so the matter should be discussed with your partner. Make sure to pay for the first date!


    Feeling nervous? Read our article on Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone. 

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    Navigating Cultural Etiquette 


    Tatemae” vs. “Honne”

    Understanding the concepts of tatemae and honne is crucial when dating in Japan. The term tatemae refers to how we act in public in order to be socially accepted in Japanese society and can be translated to “public facade.” On the other hand, honne refers to our true feelings, desires, and intentions. 

    In the context of dating, tatemae appears as polite and reserved behavior and can result in couples taking their time getting to know each other. It also influences one’s approach to public displays of affection (PDA). When it comes to PDA, tatemae usually manifests as modesty and restraint in public settings. 

    Unlike some Western cultures, Japanese society values decorum and privacy, especially in public spaces. However, it is more common to see PDA in areas with prominent nightlife such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi. When dating, honne is an individual's deeper and authentic feelings toward their romantic interest. Though, they may be hesitant to share them, especially in the early stages of a relationship. Despite cultural norms, embracing honne can lead to a more genuine relationship. 


    Gift-giving holds significant importance in Japan. It represents thoughtfulness and the desire to develop relationships and is a tangible way to express affection and gratitude towards one’s romantic partner. Gift-giving is carefully curated based on the recipient's preferences, highlighting the importance of respecting each other’s tastes and values. In contrast to Western customs, women usually gift men chocolates on Valentine's Day. These special confections are called honmei choco. On White Day, which is held on March 14th, men give gifts such as chocolate or candy to women in reciprocation for the gifts they received the month prior. However, gift-giving is also common among friends and coworkers. Overall, giving gifts plays an important role by fostering communication and appreciation between partners. Read our article about Japanese National Holidays

    Dressing to Impress

    Dress sense is an important factor to consider. Dating culture in Japan emphasizes presenting yourself well in terms of personal appearance. Both men and women put effort into their style, usually opting for sophisticated, clean, and well-fitted clothing. While the context of the date may determine the dress code, avoiding wearing something revealing or too casual will help you make a good first impression. Make sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Fashion in Japan

    An assortment of chocolates in a box, similar to those you give to your partner when dating in Japan.

    Taboo Topics

    In Japan, there are several taboo topics that one should avoid talking about on a first date to prevent discomfort including personal finances, past relationships, and politics. These topics can be seen as intrusive and inappropriate for first conversations. Creating an enjoyable atmosphere that will help you get to know each other is essential. Additionally, it is important to be neutral on your first date and not show displays of affection. Acceptable topics for conversation include hobbies, careers, travel, and cultural experiences.

    Becoming an Official Couple

    Relationships tend to progress very slowly when dating in Japan, emphasizing the importance of patience before becoming an official couple. When expressing initial interest, it is a common rule to wait until after the third date, which is a testament to how gradual the process can be. This slow pace highlights the cultural values of building trust and mutual respect and allows you to form a strong foundation in your relationship. However, if interest is expressed after the third date, relationships progress quickly.

    Love Hotels

    Love hotels are a unique part of Japanese culture and offer accommodation for couples who seek privacy. In Japan, it is common for young adults to live with their parents to save on household expenses. Subsequently, finding a private space to spend time with your romantic partner can be challenging, making love hotels a convenient solution. They typically offer themed rooms that come with various amenities. Couples can rent rooms by the hour or stay overnight, allowing for quality time away from everyone. To learn more, read our article about 10 Fascinating Love Hotels in Japan and Why You Should Visit One


    Check out our guide to Finding Cheap Apartments in Japan.

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    Love Across Borders: Dating Challenges For Foreigners in Japan


    Cultural Differences

    One of the main challenges foreigners face when dating in Japan is navigating cultural differences. They can cause misunderstandings and conflicts among couples. For example, the concept of mottainai, which refers to not wasting food and the reluctance to take home leftovers, is a cultural norm in Japan. Cultural differences such as these can create tension and disagreements in your relationship. You must actively and openly listen to your partner, understand their context, and express your values and expectations. Embracing and appreciating each other’s cultures can strengthen your connection and provide learning opportunities. Make sure to read our Guide To Moving To Japan!

    Language Barrier

    The language barrier is one of the most prevalent challenges when dating in Japan as a foreigner. Lower proficiency in your partner’s language can lead to misunderstandings, which is frustrating for both people. It also makes it more difficult to express your feelings and have meaningful conversations, making it harder to connect on a deeper level. You can strengthen your relationship by being understanding, supporting your partner in their efforts to learn your language, and putting in the time to learn theirs. Some accessible online resources are Google Translate and Duolingo. If you would like to improve, check out The Ultimate Guide to Learn Japanese.

    Family Involvement 

    Family involvement is very important in Japanese culture, and it can cause obstacles when dating as a foreigner. Differences in culture and language can make it challenging to connect with family members. Additionally, Japanese families tend to have strong traditional values and high expectations for their children's partners, especially about their work field. Once again, respect for and understanding cultural differences is the key to overcoming these challenges. Being open-minded and showing genuine interest in your significant other’s family is important. Clear communication with your partner about these matters will help you navigate familial dynamics together. 

    Long Distance Relationships

    Dating in Japan as a foreigner can lead to the challenges of maintaining a long-distance relationship if you are relocated for your job or decide to move away. Time zone differences can cause communication issues, making it harder to stay connected and maintain intimacy. In Japan, infidelity can be quite common, making long-distance risky. However, there are methods for developing a strong long-distance relationship. Frequent messaging, video calling, sending care packages, and planning trips to see each other help maintain closeness. Setting clear expectations and establishing trust is vital to keep the relationship healthy. However, being apart can provide excellent opportunities to spend more time pursuing individual hobbies and interests. 

    Balancing Love and Career

    The demanding work culture in Japan can make it challenging to balance your relationship and your career. The cultural expectation to prioritize work commitments and long hours can leave little time and energy for dating. To succeed in your career while making time for your personal life, you must learn to balance both. Setting boundaries and clearly communicating with your partner is the first step to navigating this obstacle. Scheduling regular date nights and quality time ensures that both partners feel valued. Compromise and mutual support are key to balancing love and your career. Read our article about Working Holiday in Japan: Everything You Need to Know and More!

    LGBTQ+ Dating in Japan

    In Japan, the LGBTQ+ community faces challenges in terms of rights and acceptance. While there has been progress in recent years, same-sex marriage is still not legally recognized in Japan. Several municipalities offer same-sex partnership certificates that acknowledge that an oath has been made between two individuals, but they are not legally binding. Despite growing advocacy efforts, societal attitudes toward the community vary, and discrimination and stigma largely remain. However, several organizations offer resources for LGBTQ+ individuals living in Japan, including resource centers, counseling, hotlines, and family support, as well as special events. The Tokyo Rainbow Parade is an annual 3- day festival and parade held in Tokyo to support LGBTQ+ rights and promote equality and inclusion. It serves as a platform for advocacy and community-building and typically takes place in late April to early May. 

    A phone displaying the app Bumble, a popular app for dating in Japan.

    Dating in Japan: Where to Meet People


    Dating Apps



    Tinder is a widely used dating app known for its swipe-based matching algorithm. The app is free to download and use but offers in-app purchases that allow unlimited swipes, location changes, and increased visibility. Tinder is foreigner-friendly, with a diverse user base of Japanese locals and expats. Tinder is known for more casual dating, but you can still find people searching for serious relationships on the app. 


    Bumble is a top-rated dating app in Japan. The platform empowers women to make the first move by requiring them to initiate conversations with their matches, encouraging equality and agency in the dating process. Additionally, it is commonly used for friendships and professional networking, making it a versatile app. Bumble tends to have a high success rate in Japan, with many users looking for serious relationships. 


    JapanCupid is a dating app catered specifically to singles in Japan. They are part of the Cupid Media Group, an online dating company that operates a network of niche websites. Paid members have access to translation services, allowing you to communicate with those who do not speak the same language as you. JapanCupid is optimal for singles looking for serious relationships.


    MeetUp is not a traditional dating app but a platform for organizing and joining social groups based on shared interests. The app is free, but some events may have a participation fee. Users can highlight their interests on their profiles, allowing them to join related groups such as those focused on hiking, language exchange, or trying new foods. While MeetUp is not specifically for dating, it provides opportunities to meet people with shared interests and passions, which can lead to romantic connections.


    Pairs is one of the most popular dating apps in Japan and is suitable for those seeking long-term relationships. The app connects to your Facebook account, allowing you to transfer your information efficiently. The app allows you to stay anonymous by only displaying your initials. The Pairs audience is mainly Japanese, so you may encounter difficulties if you can not speak the language. 


    Check out our ultimate guide to Japanese Dating Apps.

    A group of people eating in an Izakaya after work.

    Meeting Through Work

    In Japan, a common way for couples to form connections is by meeting through work. It is common for coworkers to go out for drinks after work in a practice called nomikai, which translates to a drinking gathering. These informal get-togethers provide an opportunity to bond outside of the work environment. Make sure to read our Foreigner’s Guide to Networking in Japan.

    Meeting Through Friends and Family

    It is common for individuals to use their social networks to introduce them to potential partners, with friends and family members often playing the role of matchmaker. The introduction is usually done through a gokon or blind group date. This method emphasizes social connections and community involvement in finding a partner. 

    Matchmaking Parties


    What is Konkatsu?

    Konkatsu is a term derived from the Japanese words kon (marriage) and katsu (activity). It refers to the Japanese practice of searching for a partner with the intent of marriage. Konkatsu matchmaking parties are typically held at upscale restaurants and hotels where you can converse with other singles. These events often focus on factors such as age, education, and career. While konkatsu is a structured and sometimes pressured method, it reflects the Japanese cultural importance of marriage and family.

    Japanese Language Exchanges

    Japanese language exchanges provide an opportunity for foreigners to improve their language skills and meet new people at the same time. These meetings usually involve individuals with varying proficiency levels in Japanese and English coming together to practice the other person’s language. This method provides a relaxed and informal environment for cultural exchange and connection. 

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    Dating in Japan: Foreigners’ Authentic Stories


    Can you share your personal experiences with dating in Japan as a foreigner? Has your experience dating in Japan been mostly positive or negative?


    Tyler: “I would say that in the beginning, it was slightly more negative, but after time, it got better.”

    Adriana:  “In these last two years, I’ve dated both Japanese individuals as well as foreigners. I think it's hard to say if it's either positive or negative. Luckily nothing too bad has happened to me, but I wouldn’t say that the experiences that I had in Japan were particularly the best of my dating life.”

    Was it positive/negative because of your ‘dating approach’ or your date’s? For example, I know a lot of people get caught up in their cultural expectations of how a date should be. The man should pay for the first date, or the woman is expected to… etc. 


    Tyler: “I would say it was a mix of negative from both sides. In most cases, in Japan, partners are less direct, which, as an American, was hard to understand. Even when she had affirmed that she was being direct, she still wasn’t telling me what was on her mind, which became more work for me to have to learn how to read her behavior better.

    My negative side was likely being annoyed at the lack of communication. In Japan, people's partners may tend to text, call, and see each other less often than in other countries. As a Westerner, this either leads one to think they are disinterested, or worst case scenario, that something bad has happened to them, causing you to worry.

    After living here for two years, I definitely now see this as a positive, as eliminating constant text and small talk from my regular habits has actually made me more productive in my other activities, so this is something that I think we as foreigners could learn.”

    Adriana: “I was living in Europe for a very long time so I was a little bit more used to getting to know people before formalizing a relationship, and I like to take my time in getting to know people. Whereas here in Japan, I’ve felt that a lot of the interactions were rushed and there were two extremes. It was either they were trying to get me to be their girlfriend by the third date, or they were just trying to be intimate on the first date. I think it was hard as a Latina woman in Tokyo as some Japanese or foreign men find out you have this label, and you’re immediately fetishized. 

    With the men that were just trying to hook up, they would really not care too much about who I am as a person and they wouldn’t care about what I had to say. They were just in it for the experience of being with a Latina. 

    Something else that I noticed is that because I’m a foreigner I was less likely to be considered as someone fit for a relationship because I wasn’t Japanese. Because I wasn’t Japanese, I wasn’t going to understand their culture, and we were going to have a lot of misunderstandings. They usually didn’t see me as girlfriend material, which I thought was very interesting, to say the least.”


    Having relationship troubles? Read our article about Everything You Need to Know About Divorce in Japan.

    A red neon sign that says "love is..."

    Compared with dating back home, is there anything “better” about dating in Japan? Do you find it easier to meet people here, for example? 


    Tyler: “I’ve spent my entire time living in Japan in a very international environment. Though I have dated Japanese, many were in some way often exposed to foreigners. Living in Tokyo, I feel like making friends is very easy, and there are numerous networks and venues to do so, even if you are on the shy side. I enjoy dating in Japan more than home because dates don’t have to be as extravagant, nor do they necessarily need to even involve spending money.”

    Adriana: “Absolutely not. As I said, I am from Latin America, and we’re very much used to treating women as princesses, and chivalry is not dead there, whereas chivalry does not exist here. I really don’t think that there’s anything better about dating in Japan.”

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to discuss the challenges of dating in Japan. I think the obvious one is the language barrier. For you, personally, what have been some of the biggest challenges?


    Tyler: “For one of my relationships, language barriers were a big obstacle. Another big challenge may be the social criticism that some Japanese may receive for dating a foreigner, which, unfortunately in my case, seemed to be a dealbreaker. They also seem to give up on relationships easily here and don’t seem to be as invested in ‘making things work’ as other cultures may be.”

    Adriana: “Yeah, I want to touch on the language barrier because there’s a lot to be said there. English is not commonly spoken here in Japan, and I understand that, and I have very limited knowledge of Japanese. 

    Let's focus on the people that did speak English. Even when interacting, I found that the interactions were heavily superficial. That means that I like to get to know a person on an interpersonal level. I like to know how they think about certain situations, what they think about life, what their morals and values are. I noticed that whenever I tried to stir the conversation in that direction, there would be a glitch, they would clearly be uncomfortable in conversing about things that were more personal. 

    Communication about your feelings is not common here or normalized. I wouldn’t want to generalize, but I found that if there are misunderstandings, I’ve had to dig them out of people which is really not the basis of a healthy relationship. 

    Expectations. I think a lot of Japanese men have certain expectations about women like they shouldn’t talk too much, they shouldn’t be too opinionated, they shouldn’t be loud, they shouldn’t dress a certain way, and I don’t fit any of those expectations. I am loud, and I speak a little bit too much. I like to make my point and get heard and I say things when I need to say things. 

    Can I share an anecdote? This guy reached out to me on Instagram and asked me if I wanted to go on a date with him. I said yes, he told me he couldn’t speak English and I told him I couldn’t speak Japanese. The date was mainly spent through Google Translate, the typical, but it was clearly uncomfortable, clearly awkward. We could not understand a single word of what we said to each other, and you could cut that tension with a knife. Similarly, I also met someone off of Instagram around the same day, but we were more on a friend basis. We would mainly communicate off of Google Translate, of course, but the way that we would understand each other on a very interpersonal level even if words weren’t there was really interesting.” 

    If you would like to improve, read our guide on the Top 10 Japanese Language Schools in Tokyo. 

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    When navigating cultural differences while dating in Japan, what strategies or approaches did you find most effective in bridging the gap between your background and your partner’s? For example, did you prioritize learning Japanese customs and traditions or focus on openly discussing cultural differences as they arose in your relationship? 


    Tyler: “The biggest stereotype I encountered, which is fairly true, is that I am generally more outgoing than locals (and even other people from my home country). I found that this has benefited me in the short term, as the fact that it is different may make it seem more attractive. In the long term, I believe it becomes tiring for Japanese people to be around.”

    Adriana: “Let's talk about the fact that a lot of foreign women are seen as easy in Japan. They think that just because I’m a foreigner, I am open-minded, whatever that means. I have been able to tell that their lack of effort and their lack of willpower to try to impress me or to actually get to know me has been insane just because of the stereotype that they have. For example, I had this guy text me on Instagram and he was like, “You want to come to a love hotel.” I was like, “No,” and he was like, ‘Whatever. I just wanted to know what it’s like to be with a foreigner anyways.’”

    Similarly, did you have any misconceptions about dating in Japan before you arrived? Did you expect men to be more assertive in their approach, or did you have any assumptions about their fashion sense? 


    Tyler: “To be honest, it is almost exactly how I expected it. The only thing that surprised me was how much they drank on dates (even first dates). I also work in a club, so this may be a narrow view. I did also expect people to be more assertive. I expected the shyness, but not the level of indirectness and saying things they don’t mean to avoid the slightest disagreement.”

    Adriana: “I don't really think I had any misconceptions about dating in Japan. I knew they were shy but I was very surprised at how assertive they can be when they are drunk. Out at night, I’ve had people just throw comments about my body. I had never thought in my life that I was going to hear that from a Japanese person. 

    I had a misconception that they were going to be more open-minded in dating people who were foreigners and that they wouldn’t have so many stereotypes or biases against us. I was very surprised to see how hard it can be to find a partner as a foreign woman in Japan.”

    How did your perceptions evolve once you started dating in Japan? Did your initial expectations align with the reality of your dating experiences, or were there any surprises along the way?


    Tyler: “I generally started to feel less attracted to dating locals in Japan since it started to feel like they just liked the idea of dating a foreigner and not the actual act of doing so. It seemed more like an experience to them rather than a commitment.”

    Adriana: “I think the first year was really tough because I thought it was just the guys I was dating that weren’t good guys because I am in the fashion scene and industry. I felt like I needed to start dating out of the industry and to start expanding. 

    I downloaded Bumble, and I stopped dating guys who were younger than me or the same age. I started dating guys who were strictly older than me, and then I realized they were all the same, it didn’t really matter the industry. My perception now, two years later, is that dating here is just not for me. I’d rather just be alone than have bad company. I’d rather not be treated like an object.”

    Read our Ultimate Guide To Japanese Men to learn more.  

    A couple that are dating in Japan. One is a foreigner and the other is Japanese.

    What strategies or approaches were most effective in navigating these perceptions? For example, did you actively challenge stereotypes through your actions, or did you focus on fostering genuine connections and dispelling misconceptions through open communication?


    Tyler: “Initially, I decided to date other foreigners from cultures that I was more comfortable with. It was much easier considering there were no social pressures from society, considering neither of us was Japanese. Now that I am in a relationship with a Japanese person again, I made sure to let them know my thoughts on this in the beginning and communicate it before it could grow into an issue later.”

    Adriana: “I mean, I tried all of those. I did try to say you can’t group all of us into one big thing. I address the fact that when people think of Latin America, they think that all these different countries are just one country.”

    What's been the best method for meeting people in Japan so far? Have you found that meeting people in person, through dating apps, through mutual friends, or other approaches has worked best for you?


    Tyler: “I was lucky enough to have friends here before moving, which gave me the privilege of making many more friends very quickly. Working in a popular nightlife district has also made it very easy for me to meet new people every night. I find meeting people in person to be the only that would work for me.”

    Adriana: “I was meeting people mainly through contacts and parties, going to a lot of fashion events, or through Instagram or through mutual friends. When I realized that I didn’t really want to be dating in the industry, I chose to open dating apps here, which was wild at the beginning because in Berlin, Tinder is used to meet people in the same way Bumble is, but then I realized what Tinder was here, which is just a mess of pictures of food, dogs, and everything except faces. So I deleted that, and I opened Bumble, and that was my main way of meeting people for the other year.”

    If you don’t mind me asking, what has been your longest relationship, and how did you meet that partner?


    Tyler: “Six months long, and I met them at a language exchange.”

    Adriana: “My longest relationship was complicated but let's just say five years. I haven’t had a relationship here. I just haven’t been able to meet anyone that I see a future with here. I have been casually seeing this guy for a year and a half now, I think, but it's only casual. I met him through Bumble. The reason why it works is because he’s not Japanese. Well, his parents are Japanese, but he was born in Hawaii. He gets me in a way that the other people haven’t and we keep everything with no drama and no problems.”

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    Do you notice a difference in the types of people you meet in various settings? For example, there's a common stereotype that you might find more casual encounters on apps like Tinder or in nightclubs. In contrast, platforms like Match are often associated with people seeking more serious relationships.


    Tyler: “I don’t have much experience with apps; however, it seems like those are generally better fits for shy people or those who can’t approach strangers in person. If somebody is in a nightclub, they probably have no issue making the first move. I believe in both apps and bars/clubs you can find serious people and non-serious people. There is a perception that people out in clubs are not seeking serious relationships, which is not entirely true, although I do understand where the perception comes from.”

    Adriana: “It does not matter what application you use. I think they’re all kind of just looking for hookups, at least in my case. Unless I meet someone in a more strict and slow environment.”

    I’m sure that when you got to Japan, you received some advice from a friend or colleague about dating in Japan. Have you heard any really good or bad advice? 


    Tyler: “I heard two extremes: one that it was good and better than compared to other countries, not much fighting, politeness, etc. I have also been told numerous times not to get married and that they almost always end in divorce (and that infidelity is common). A lot of my advice was to date Japanese who have spent significant time abroad and have a more international mindset.”

    Adriana: “I have a friend who told me how bad it was for foreigners, and I was like, there’s no way that it's that bad. She told me you say that because you just got here, but once you actually start to date and you actually see how they are, you’re going to see, and I think she was right. 

    I came here, and my friend told me ghosting is huge here because I told her this guy hadn’t answered me. She was like, by the way, ghosting is huge here. For my first year, I had something called the three-date curse. You went on three dates, and it was either they asked you to be their girlfriend, which was very few, or they would just disappear after the third date. I actually had that curse up until I met that guy from Hawaii that I recently mentioned.”

     If you would give dating advice to somebody who just landed in Tokyo, what two pieces of advice are at the top of your list? 


    Tyler: “I would say just be yourself and don’t have too high expectations. I don’t recommend being pessimistic either because plenty of people have great experiences, as well as bad ones. The negative always gets more attention. I do agree that it may be far easier to date someone with international experience or who has traveled. Just get out there and meet people, and do your best to learn customs and language. That’s something I wish I had done. Even if they speak English and you don’t need it for communication with your partner, it shows effort and commitment to adapting to their culture. They also probably don’t want to end up having to help you read your mail and take care of so many things for you.”

    Adriana: “The first piece of advice was ‘Run. Don’t do it.’ I would say just because you think that they look innocent and nice does not mean that they’re innocent and nice. Do not trust anyone like that until they’ve actually shown you through their actions that they are worth your trust. Take care of yourself, and don’t allow yourself to be in a vulnerable situation just because they look nice. 

    The second piece of advice is people are people. No matter where you are in the world, there are good ones and there are bad ones, so don’t be biased. Don’t stereotype people because that’s not cool, and that's also just not safe. Always be yourself even if they’re not okay or they don’t accept the way that you are. Being yourself authentically is what’s important. If there’s someone along the way who comes and actually likes you for who you are, then that is awesome. 

    Just don’t take it personally like I took it personally. People are just busy; they have things to do. They have lives, they have schedules, they have certain expectations, and it’s okay if you don’t fit in all of those things. Don’t take it personally, and don’t focus too much on dating; just live your life.”

    Navigating the intricacies of dating in Japan as a foreigner can be both enriching and extremely challenging. Through exploring cultural differences and encouraging clear communication, it is not impossible to foster meaningful connections in the Japanese dating scene. Despite our interviewees' many obstacles, the experience offers an opportunity for personal growth and cultural exchange. By respecting Japanese customs while staying true to themselves, foreigners can forge genuine relationships.

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