I sat down with three Japanese women to ask what people should know before dating a Japanese girl. Their names are Kotoe, Yuka, and Chiho. Kotoe owns a restaurant and was born and raised in Itabashi, Tokyo; Yuka is a writer and freelance photographer; and Chiho is a nurse with her finger on the pulse of the latest makeup and fashion trends in Japan.
I asked each woman what their best tips ’n tricks and advice are for my fellow foreigners who might come to Japan in hopes of finding their future wife, a cool person to hang out with and show them around, or both. I also asked them what their biggest pet peeves are and what red flags they look out for when going on a date in general.
As the night stretched on, I listened to three very different perspectives on dating a Japanese girl. Chiho’s makeup and matching nails shimmered under the dim restaurant lights. A serene smile that mirrored the restaurant’s relaxing atmosphere never left Yuka’s face as she translated for Chiho. Kotoe’s laugh echoed in the Toronto-style restaurant she owns with a college friend as she pulled the lever on the espresso machine. At one point, a black coffee and a Bánh mì appeared in her grasp.
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None of the women held back as they shared all the intimate details about what they thought dating a Japanese girl looked like based on their personal experience as Japanese women. They were eager to set the record straight and weren’t too shy or embarrassed to answer my sometimes too-personal questions.
Whether you’re searching for long-term love and commitment or something fun and casual during your next trip to Japan, these tips are guaranteed to improve your chances of success while dating a Japanese girl and provide a little bit of insight into the often misunderstood and unique culture of Japan.
This article is a subsection of our extensive series on Learning Japanese with BFF Tokyo.
The different types of Japanese girls and how to spot them
Are there different types or categories of women foreigners should know about before dating a Japanese girl?
Chiho: There’s not really any categories for women like there are for men. Japanese girls tend to have distinct styles of makeup that can tell you a lot about their personalities, like if they wear Korean or Chinese-style makeup or Western-style clothes. Even in Japanese culture, there’s lolita fashion and gyaru which are easily distinguishable from the other ones I mentioned.
Yuka: Yeah, we don’t really use the word “type.” Maybe because we get access to culture and styles from many different cultures all over the world, the style of fashion and makeup they like is probably the best way to differentiate between the different types of Japanese girls.
Kotoe: There’s kawaii-kei, which means “cute type.” There’s kirei-kei, which means “pretty type.” Then there’s bijin-kei, which means “beautiful type.” They each stand for the different types of Japanese girls. Girls who are considered to be the “pretty type” are seen as cool-looking, while “cute types” means that they look like an idol. “Beautiful types” look more mature and have a very strong, positive meaning. You can really tell a girl’s personality from her makeup and fashion, especially fashion.
Are there different types or categories for men foreigners should know about before dating a Japanese girl?
Chiho: There’s nikushoku-kei or “meat-eater type.” They’re seen as the aggressive leader-type. They like to flirt with lots of girls, and that is attractive for some women, but some girls think it’s too much. There’s soshoku-kei or “grass-eater type.” They’re usually kind or soft and don’t really tend to lead as much. They just wait for the girl’s direction. There’s rōru-kyabbitsu-kei or “rolled cabbage type.”
I think it’s based on a foreign dish that has cabbage on the outside and meat on the inside. They look like a grass-eater type on the outside, but on the inside, they’re the meat-eater type. It means they look kind and soft on the outside but when it comes to relationships they tend to take charge. Then there’s zesshoku-kei or “fasting type.” It means they’re in love with fictional characters and have no desire for sex.
Yuka: I’ve never heard of the “fasting type” before. *laughs.*
Kotoe: We do have those kinds of categories, but they’re not typically used as a way to vet people while dating. It’s mostly just a convenient way to explain what your personal preference or ‘type’ of guy is.
As you can see, there’s a lot to learn, which is why you should check out the Ultimate Guide to Fashion in Japan. Learning about what “type” of girl you like is important for understanding your own personal preference, and should be seen as a useful guide for dating a Japanese girl rather than a hard and fast rule. A great way to start up a conversation or keep the small talk rolling might be to bring up what you know about different facial types and ask your date which type she thinks best represents you. You may be surprised by her answer!
Long-term and short-term goals you should know before dating a Japanese girl
What are some expectations or goals Japanese girls have about dating?
Chiho: I think Japanese girls care more about marriage, so I think their expectations are different from foreign women’s expectations. I feel like foreign women focus more on compatibility with their partners first, but for Japanese girls, their priority is whether or not they can marry this person. Our parents pressure us about when we’re signing a marriage contract or having kids, so we constantly have to worry about keeping in line with societal expectations.
Yuka: I’ve heard some Japanese women hand in marriage papers but aren’t actually in love with their partners just to get their parents to stop pressuring them, so if they’re looking for a long-term relationship I’d say marriage.
Kotoe: Marriage. That’s it. *laughs*
I’ve heard some Japanese girls say that they want to date foreigners so that they can have “cute biracial or hafu babies.” What do you think about that?
Yuka: That annoys me a lot when people say that. I think it’s so rude.
Chiho: Japanese girls and Japanese people, in general, think that if your blood is mixed, it automatically makes your kid cuter. They believe that when the baby’s eyes are bigger or if they grow up to have a “sauce type” face, it’s cute and more attractive. I can see why they think that way, but I’ve never thought about it.
Kotoe: *laughs.* It sounds so stupid, doesn’t it? I think it’s interesting that Japanese girls sometimes say it. I would never think about something like that.
Do you think Japanese girls are looking for long-term relationships when it comes to dating foreign men, or are they just messing around?
Yuka: I think it depends on the person. I’ve heard that there are a lot of Japanese girls who specifically want to date foreign guys, but everyone’s purpose is different. Some just want to experience sleeping with foreigners because we don’t really have an opportunity to be with anyone besides other Japanese people. *laughs.* Some want to live in a foreign country and so they’re hoping to marry someone and get a visa. So I think it’s a little bit of everything.
Chiho: I agree, it depends on the person.
Kotoe: It’s so difficult because it depends on the person. I know girls who want to have fun and have friends with benefits, but I also know girls who want be in a long-term relationship. It totally depends.
Untangling the web of hook-up culture and dating a Japanese girl
When dating a Japanese girl, is it rude to ask if they’re interested in just hooking up?
Yuka: I think it’s more common in Tokyo compared to other places that have fewer foreigners. In the countryside, most foreigners that live in Japan for a long time are married *laughs.*
Chiho: I don’t personally participate in hook-up culture, but it’s very common in Japan. I have some friends who like to hook up with other people, but Japanese girls don’t usually care about what nationality or ethnicity you are. They care more about, “Is this guy rich?” or “Is this guy handsome?” Those are the types of requirements that Japanese girls have for men they’re considering hooking up with. People who are serious about being in a relationship tend to focus on personality and things like that, but people who just want to have fun and not be in a long-term relationship don’t care as much.
Kotoe: Yes, we have hook-up culture here too. Some people are open to it and others aren’t. In general, Japanese girls don’t see a difference between hooking up with foreign men and hooking up with Japanese men. It’s just a matter of who is comfortable with it and who isn’t.
I’ve heard from some people who have experience dating a Japanese girl that Japanese women tend to cheat more than Japanese men. Is this true?
Yuka: I have a strict no-cheating rule. I think trust is more important than anything else in a relationship, so I won’t do it nor will I let someone do it *laughs.* But I think Japan is just like any other country in that there will be people who don’t mind if their partner cheats and while others are very uncomfortable with the idea of it. But I think that men and women are equal in this case.
Chiho: If other women want to sleep with a guy, that means he’s attractive and that’s a good point for Japanese girls. For me, I understand that men have desires, so as long as I don’t have to know about it or be financially affected, I don’t mind if he cheats. Women also have desires, so if men can cheat I think that women can cheat too. Some women are lonely if their husbands work long hours and they feel like they don't get enough attention, so they’ll cheat and the same rules should apply to them. As long as your partner is not emotionally or financially affected, and they don’t bring home any diseases, I think it’s okay to cheat *laughs.*
Kotoe: I believe men cheat more than women. Women tend to just break up and move on with someone else, right? *laughs.* I could never cheat on my partner because trust is the most important thing to me.
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Does going to massage parlors or hostess clubs count as cheating?
Yuka: What kind of massage parlors are we talking about? *laughs.* I don’t consider it to be cheating as long as they’re going with someone or if it’s for business or something. But if my partner goes alone, then it would definitely make me feel uncomfortable. Historically, those are places where men have been going to unwind and relax after working long hours, so Japanese girls see them mostly as businesses more than anything else - there are always exceptions, of course. *laughs.*
Chiho: I think that’s totally fine. As long as he’s not spending too much money there and still financially supporting me, I wouldn’t consider it cheating.
Kotoe: Hostess clubs? No, I wouldn’t consider going to one to be cheating. I also don’t want my partner going to one alone, but if you have to go for a business meeting once or twice then I wouldn’t say anything. I just wouldn’t really like it. Sometimes salarymen go there for business purposes, and hostess clubs are generally seen as a place where you’re just going to talk and maybe sing some karaoke. But a massage parlor? Yes. Your boss still might ask you to go to one, but in that case, I think that’s almost like sexual harassment. It’s totally inappropriate if they ask you to do such a thing.
If you’re not sure what crosses the line - try asking your date about what kinds of places they like to go to for nightlife activities. Find out if they’re into the bar or club scene, or prefer tasting local dishes tucked away in an izakaya. Need some ideas? Check out our Top 15 Bars in Tokyo!
Common myths about dating a Japanese girl that could ruin your chances
What do you think about the misconception that Japanese people aren’t having a lot of sex while simultaneously being seen as “sex-crazed?”
Yuka: We have a word for people who maybe give foreigners this impression. "Musuri" means someone who doesn’t show their sexual desire, they just hold it inside but when nobody’s looking it just comes out like an explosion. Basically, it means you’re calm on the outside but crazy on the inside.
Chiho: I don’t really have a problem with men like that. I think it can be kind of cute or sexy when men are holding themselves back but admit that they want to have sex with me. If they’re a nice person, it can be nice to hear. But if they’re creepy or scary, it’s unpleasant.
Kotoe: I think that’s just a stereotype. My lifestyle doesn’t match that way at all. I know a lot of foreigners believe that because I’ve actually had foreign men who have asked me out say, “You must need attention.” In the past, I’ve just sat those men down and asked them why they have this impression and told them why it’s wrong *laughs.* Japanese people aren’t sex-crazed nor are we not having sex, that’s just a misconception they picked up from watching TV and movies.
After dating a Japanese girl, I’ve heard some men say that Japanese girls aren’t used to being treated as equals in a relationship. Is it true that Japanese men and women aren’t equal and what are your thoughts on that?
Yuka: I think Japanese girls from our generation, maybe 30 years old and lower, don’t agree with that belief system anymore *laughs.* I think men and women should always be equal in a relationship.
Chiho: It’s important to understand that Japanese people are still feeling the effects of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. I see lots of men who are older, like over 50 years old, who behave selfishly and expect their wives to do everything for them. That’s how things used to be, so I understand, but I also don’t like it. Some Japanese girls learn in school or from their parents that it’s better to put others above themselves, but I think more and more girls are fighting to change this belief and aren’t afraid to speak up these days.
Kotoe: I don’t think there’s any difference between a man cheating and a woman cheating. In a relationship, men and women are equal, but realistically, is some inequality between men and women in Japanese society. Especially when a woman gets married and has children. She doesn’t get treated the same way her husband does, so in that way, we aren’t equal. But when it comes to being in a relationship, in Japanese society, men and women are supposed to be equal. It’s not the same as it used to be for our parents.
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What do you think of the stereotype, “Japanese women are better than other Asian women?”
Chiho: I think Japanese women can be just as good or bad as any other country’s girls. We can be real bitches, you know? *laughs* We might act nice and cute on the outside but on the inside, we can be mean too. I don’t think we’re any better than other countries' women.
Yuka: I agree with that. Japanese girls can look super cute but they’re not always as cute as they look *laughs.*
Kotoe: Honestly, I’ve heard about it before and I don’t feel anything when I hear it. Sometimes when I travel abroad and tell people I’m Japanese, people say nice things to me. I always think it’s because maybe they’ve interacted with nice Japanese tourists before, and if that’s the case then it makes me feel grateful towards the Japanese tourists who came before me and left such a good impression. But, on the other hand, when someone says “Japanese girls are the best,” I don’t feel anything. I’m not grateful or anything like that. It’s not going to make me romantically more interested than you *laughs.*
Sometimes, stereotypes can seem harmless but still have a big negative impact on a person even if you didn't mean to hurt them. That's why it's so important to learn more about their impact. Saying the wrong thing can really turn off a person, and when it comes to dating a Japanese girl, it’s better to look past someone’s ethnicity and see what it is that really attracts you to the person as a general rule of thumb. If there's something you're curious about, try starting a conversation with your date. Does she have a 'bucket' list? Ask about the places she’s been to and where she wants to go!
How to be confident when talking to Japanese girls (and improve your Japanese)
Before dating a Japanese girl, do you need to know Japanese?
Yuka: I don’t think it’s necessary because we learn a little bit of English in junior high and high school. But, most Japanese people can’t speak English fluently and are shy, so it’s a big turn-off for us if someone doesn’t want to understand; has no patience; talks super fast, or something like that. You don’t have to understand Japanese completely but you should try to understand their feelings about speaking English and be accommodating.
Chiho: Yeah, I can’t understand if someone is speaking English too fast. If a guy adjusts how he speaks that would be great and helps me get more familiar with the guy easily.
Kotoe: For me, no Japanese is okay for me. But if they speak a language I completely can’t understand, it matters a little bit. I can still try, it just might be a little bit harder for me to understand. But I like studying languages, so if they speak a language I’m interested in, I’m happy to try and learn something new.
What about if they can’t speak Japanese at all? Would you still date them?
Yuka: For me, it doesn’t matter as long as they speak slowly enough so that I can understand. I think most Japanese girls are so excited to date foreigners, they’re open to speaking with anyone from a different country. So, no, Japanese is not required.
Chiho: If they’re good-looking, it doesn’t matter *laughs.* We have smartphones nowadays, so we can translate any kind of language. But if they’re handsome, for most women it probably doesn’t matter if they can’t speak Japanese *laughs.*
Kotoe: I think that’s fine, I can try *laughs.* To be honest, it will depend on every girl’s English speaking skills. Communication is very important.
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What if they speak a language that’s not English or Japanese?
Yuka: I’m okay with a person that speaks any language. I don’t really have a preference. However, because I can speak English, I would prefer if someone could speak a little bit of English with me because that’s the language I’ve studied the most. Or Japanese, of course, would be great because that’s my native language. But if we get married, that’s a completely different story. If we’re just going on a date, it’s okay, but if it’s long-term, I think it’s going to be a bit difficult.
Chiho: If it’s a language I’m not familiar with, I think it would be impossible to communicate if they can’t speak at least a little English or Japanese. As a Japanese person, you don’t really get a chance to listen to many other languages - except maybe Korean. But, if I really liked them or if I was really interested in learning that particular language, then I would be okay with dating them. Once I’m interested in someone, I get really invested.
Kotoe: English is okay for me because I studied it. If it’s a language I’m not familiar with then I think it would be difficult for me. If we go for dinner or lunch or drinks, we can talk and try to understand each other, but I think it’s easier if we both can communicate in the same language.
Is there anything that turns you on when a foreigner says it to you in Japanese?
Yuka: Yes, I like it when their voice doesn’t match their face. Foreigners typically speak in a lower tone in their native language, but then they speak Japanese and they use a high-pitch voice and sound more cutesy. When a big guy does it unironically, I think it’s really funny.
Chiho: I think it’s cute when they say “wakarimasen” with a heavy English accent. I think it’s super cute. I also like how different people sound when they speak their native language versus when they speak Japanese.
Kotoe: When a guy tries to speak Japanese, I’m grateful. I think it’s cute regardless of how well they can speak it or not. It shows that they really care and are interested in my culture.
If you’re nervous about speaking Japanese while dating a Japanese girl, don’t be! You’re probably overthinking it. Language exchange in Japan can be very intimidating at times, but it can also be forgiving. From personal experience, I think the best place to start brushing up on your Japanese-speaking skills starts with reading the menu. If you can’t read hiragana or katakana yet, don’t be afraid to ask your date for help - she might be excited to take the lead! Talking directly to the wait staff is bumping it up to the next level. If you can order for yourself and your date, and get the polite basics down, you’ll be sure to hear that iconic phrase foreigner love and hate to hear: “Nihongo ga jozu desu ne?”
How to show a Japanese girl you’re interested (and how to tell when she’s not)
Is there anything that turns you off when a foreigner says it to you in Japanese?
Yuka: I feel turned off when they say they watch anime or dramas and believe negative stereotypes about Japanese women. Like they think “We can’t say no” or “We’re submissive.” I think it’s fine if they watch anime, but I feel like some foreigners have this idea that Japanese girls are “easy.” When I get the hint that someone thinks that way, it’s an immediate turn-off.
Chiho: If they say anything discriminating or demeaning, that’s a turn-off. Japanese men do this a lot, they’ll say things like, “You’re so tiny,” or “You’re like a baby,” or say something about Japanese girls’ physical appearance. They think they’re just poking fun, but we usually don’t think it’s funny. For me, it’s a big turn-off when men do that whether they are a foreigner or Japanese.
Kotoe: I don’t like it when men have this belief that Japanese women are submissive because “they watched this drama or this movie.” The characters they like are Japanese girls who hold their true feelings inside and just do everything for the guys. I hate that *laughs.* People see those characters and think, “Oh that’s how all Japanese girls are.” For me, it’s so annoying. If I meet a guy who believes that, I always try to correct them. It happens a lot in anime too.
Are there any physical behaviors or gestures that you like or don’t like when foreigners do them?
Yuka: Because I used to live in Canada, I don’t really care about hand gestures or talking loudly or things like that. But it makes me uncomfortable when people wear their shoes in the house. I’ve seen it happen in movies, but in Canada, that always surprised me. As for strong odors, I thought I was the only one who thought that some foreigners smell like milk *laughs.*
Chiho: Sometimes foreigners are too loud and it can be obnoxious. If you’re standing close to them, sometimes you can see spit flying. They can’t always read the room, so when they’re overly excited or happy they tend to take up a lot of space and talk really loud. I don’t really like big hand gestures and things like that. Also, when there’s a big group of foreigners on the train, if they have a strong body odor or perfume I feel like I’m going to faint. I’ve never thought anyone smelled like milk.
Kotoe: I agree with all the above, but for me, it doesn’t matter if they’re Japanese or a foreigner. If they do those things in general, it’s annoying *laughs.*
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What gives you the “ick” on the first date? “Ick” is American slang for something that gives you an unpleasant feeling on the first date.
Yuka: I don’t like men who are indecisive. For example, if they take a long time to order. Chewing with their mouth open. I don’t like smoking. don’t like it when someone makes discriminatory comments about a group of people. I don’t mind if they make acceptable jokes, but if they say rude things about gay people or people of other races, for example. Those are all “icks” to me.
One time I dated a guy and he was the really needy type. He would get mad at me for not replying fast enough and I had to tell him what I was doing all the time. Also, one time he took me to a fancy restaurant and it was awkward because we were both broke college students. I felt like he was trying too hard to impress me, and it was too much for me. That was also unpleasant.
Chiho: I also don’t like smoking. If they’re unhygienic. For example, they might sweat a lot but they don’t take care of how they smell. If they don’t care about their appearance and don’t take care of their hair or skin. If their shoes smell bad. I lose interest in someone if they pick a place that has really bad service. On the other hand, if they’re rude to the wait staff, that gives me the “ick.”
Kotoe: I don’t like when people make a joke using an inappropriate word in Japanese just to show off or be funny. I understand it’s interesting because it’s a Japanese word, but some words have a really strong negative meaning, and I don’t think foreigners really comprehend how strong it sounds to use it.
Also if you put your leg on a table or put your shoes somewhere they’re not supposed to be, that gives me the “ick.” Also, when men try to dominate and try to overpower me in a conversation or if they chew too loudly. If they’re unhygienic. If they’re braggy and keep talking about their accomplishments, it turns me off. If they look down on other people, I don’t like it. If they’re rude to people at a restaurant or a convenience store, I’m immediately not interested in them anymore.
Dating a Japanese girl is all about equal exchange. Both parties should be contributing to the conversation and equally participating in a cultural exchange. What do I mean by that? Talk to her and ask her questions about things she likes. And if she’s shy or not confident in her language skills, try starting up a conversation and ask ‘connecting” questions. Here’s an example: “Do you like cooking? What types of dishes do you like to cook? What’s your favorite Japanese dish? Are there any local dishes you recommend I try? Can we go there together sometime?” The key is waiting for her response in between each question, and coming up with the next question based on her answer. Finding the right words can be difficult, so if you're curious, take a gander at the Top 1000 Japanese Words You Need to Know. You might learn one or two that will impress her!
What Japanese women actually like about foreigners who are interested in dating a Japanese girl
What specifically do you like about dating foreigners who are interested in dating a Japanese girl?
Yuka: I like tall guys and expressive guys. I want to hear “I love you” all time, or “You’re cute” all the time. I never expected it, but it makes sense that I ended up dating foreigners. I also like how foreigners don’t expect women to do everything. It’s more equal. They don’t expect you to know how to cook or anything like that. My mom always did everything, and while I love her very much, I didn’t want things to be like that with me and my future husband.
Chiho: I like that foreign men are positive, have high self-esteem, are passionate, and are not shy. Japanese guys are not as expressive, so for me, I like this better about foreigners. It’s rare to find Japanese guys who are as expressive as foreigners. As for our parents, I feel the exact same as Yuka. I have a lot of respect for my mother, she did so much for other people, but when I look at her now she doesn’t seem that happy. I want my life to be different, so I try my best to change. For example, I try to be more outspoken and don’t do things that I don’t want to do.
Kotoe: I feel like foreigners in general are more open to communicating their thoughts and feelings. For example, if you have an issue, some foreigners are more willing to sit down and have an open conversation. I like that point about foreigners more. I also like how foreigners are more comfortable expressing their love for each other. Some Japanese people do it too, but those types of people are maybe not as easy to find.
I’m not sure how to explain it, but some foreign guys seem to have been raised in a very nurturing environment. Some guys give me the impression that they really care about their family and are okay with staying home and raising kids. In Japan, men don’t have to worry as much about that because it’s culturally expected for women to stay home and take care of the kids.
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What do you find physically attractive about foreigners who are interested in dating a Japanese girl?
Yuka: I like tall guys, so I prefer foreigners in this case. But, it doesn’t matter if they’re Japanese or not, they have to be tall or I’m not interested *laughs.*
Chiho: Foreigners are usually taller than Japanese guys, so I like that. But it’s not a deal-breaker for me. If I think they’re handsome and they have a good personality, then it doesn’t really matter how tall they are or anything like that.
Kotoe: I like tall men, but in the neighborhood where I used to live in Tokyo, there were lots of tall Japanese guys, so I can’t think of anything that’s different about foreign guys. I think Taiwanese men are usually good-looking. They’re really cool.
Have you ever heard that foreign men are more gentlemanly than Japanese men when they’re dating a Japanese girl?
Yuka: Yes, I’ve heard that before. In my opinion, I find that to be true.
Chiho: I’ve heard that a lot from Japanese girls. I think men try to act like a gentleman because they think it’s cool, but it doesn’t always come off as genuine. If a guy orders on a menu for me or seems like a real gentleman, it’s a good point for me. If I feel like you’re just pretending, it’s a red flag *laughs.*
Kotoe: I think a much higher percentage of foreign men hold open doors for women than Japanese men. When I was in Canada, I saw a woman trying to push a stroller and a bunch of men came and helped her carry it up some stairs. I often saw men opening doors for women. In Japan, that doesn’t happen very often.
Do you think Japanese girls, in general, have a preference about which country foreign men are from, or what their accent is like?
Yuka: I don’t think Japanese people can really distinguish between different English accents, so we don’t have a preference over British people or Americans or anything like that.
Chiho: I’m not really sure. Because of K-pop and idol culture, there are a lot of Japanese girls who like Korea and they take their love to an extreme. In general, white guys are still the most popular I guess. As for accents, I like Taiwanese guys. They sound sexy when they speak Japanese *laughs.*
Kotoe: I’ve heard lots of Japanese girls are interested in men from France, but it probably depends on the person.
Are you willing to teach someone who is interested in dating a Japanese girl about your culture?
Yuka: Yes, if they’re looking to be in a long-term relationship. I think it’s important that they should want to learn about Japanese culture if they want to date a Japanese girl.
Chiho: Yes, I’d be willing to teach someone if they’re willing to learn. It’s pointless if they’re not interested in hearing what I have to say, you know? It means a lot when someone wants to learn about my culture, and I would say it’s a “green flag” if he shows interest in it. I think curiosity is attractive.
Kotoe: Of course! I’d be happy to teach them if they are curious. If they’re not interested or curious at all, then I wouldn’t, but I don’t usually meet those guys *laughs.*
If you’ve read this far in the article, chances are you’re curious about dating a Japanese girl. The best advice I can give you after reading what Japanese women really like about foreigners is this: just be yourself. It sounds silly, but as the women I interviewed pointed out, no one likes a faker. Be genuine and ask your date questions about her culture. Talk about what kinds of food she likes, what TV shows or movies she likes, or what kinds of hobbies she has. You’re bound to find a common interest, and she’ll appreciate someone who listens rather than does all the talking.
The best way to approach dating a Japanese girl (do’s and don’ts)
What should foreigners who are interested in dating a Japanese girl know before approaching someone?
Yuka: I think it’s true that if we aren’t used to speaking English, our brains get easily tired. Short, casual conversations over a longer period of time are probably the best way to approach Japanese girls *laughs.*
Chiho: If the girl is fluent in English, or is confident in speaking English, the bars or clubs are perfectly fine. If a girl is not very confident in English, then maybe cafes would be better — and in short increments. Speaking English can be really tiring for Japanese people, so it’s better to keep the conversation short and maybe ask for their Instagram or Line.
Japanese girls are usually waiting for men to approach them, so it’s okay to approach, just don’t be creepy and don’t overwhelm them by talking too much. I would say that Instagram is probably the most comfortable for Japanese girls to give out because it’s not like they’re giving you private information. We don’t really give out phone numbers anymore because we have social media nowadays.
Kotoe: Spending time with one another and getting to know one another is very important. You’re sharing each other’s cultures, and trying to understand each other, so how you speak is very important. Don’t use sentences that are too long or talk too fast.
Do you have any advice for where Japanese girls should go to meet foreigners?
Yuka: It depends on the person. If you’re a party person, going to clubs might be great. I tried going to a club but it didn’t work for me *laughs.* My friends were dancing and drinking while I was just standing in a corner wondering what I was doing there *laughs.*
In Japan, even going to an izakaya with a big group probably isn’t a good idea either. For example, if your company is having a work party, that’s great for socializing but not for dating. Some people might be watching or listening to what you’re saying, especially if you’re talking to a foreigner, so I think Japanese girls should look for something cozier and more intimate, like a smaller group or a one-on-one date.
Chiho: I recommend choosing a place with great customer service for your first date. If you’re talking to a foreigner, you want to focus and not be distracted by the environment or bad service.
Kotoe: For me, go somewhere that has more foreigners. Go somewhere that has parties, events, meet-ups, bars, etc. If you look for it, it’s easy to find. In the countryside, it’s much more difficult and there aren’t as many opportunities to meet foreigners. In that case, I would say online is best.
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Are Japanese people okay with “PDA?” PDA stands for “public display of affection,” like kissing or holding hands.
Yuka: I think Japanese girls want more of it, but we’re not used to it, so we get shy at first. I’m comfortable with PDA because I used to live in Canada when I was in university. When I came back to Japan, I had a Canadian boyfriend, and we would hold hands in public and kiss, but I was shyer back then so I was worried about coming across as braggy whenever I was being affectionate with my boyfriend.
I didn’t want other girls to think I was saying, “Hey, look at my boyfriend—he’s a foreigner!” so I didn’t do it as much. Now I don’t care what other people think. If I like someone, I want to be able to express myself, and that’s all that matters. But I think Japanese girls in general are still worried about what other people might think.
Chiho: I think Japanese men are the same. They don’t do PDA because they care about what other people think, especially if they’re from the countryside because it’s easy to run into people you know and they can start rumors. I think Japanese girls want more expressive men but it depends on the person. Japanese men tend to hide their true feelings until no one is around, which I think can be sexy. But I also like that foreigners are more open with their expressions of love and I think a lot of Japanese girls want to experience being more open about holding hands and kissing in public because we don’t really have that culture here.
Kotoe: I think people who are older, especially the elderly, don’t really like PDA. If your partner is okay with it, then you don’t have to care about what other people think, but it will depend on the person. For me, I think holding hands and linking arms is okay. But kissing is a little embarrassing for me. If it’s on the street or in a less crowded place, I think it’s fine. If it’s in front of, let’s say the train gate where there are a bunch of people walking by who can see you, I think that would be too much *laughs.*
Is it okay to hold hands or kiss someone on the first date in Japan?
Yuka: On the first date? That’s a little too forward.
Chiho: No way. I wouldn’t let them *laughs.* I think they should wait to hug or do anything like that. Maybe save it for later *laughs.* Japanese girls have this idea that if you do “te-o-da-su” or make the first move on the first date, that’s a bad thing. It means you’re a playboy.
Kotoe: I think it’s OK but the girl is probably going to be surprised. For some girls, if you try to kiss her, she might be too surprised and end the date right away. Another girl might not show any initial reaction but then not ask for a second date. It all depends on the person, so I think it’s better to check first before doing anything brash. But if you both are vibing really well and you get a good feeling, I think it’s totally fine to hold hands (and kiss) if the mutual feeling is there.
Always remember to ask for consent. If you're not sure what that looks like, you can read more about consent here. What might be culturally acceptable and maybe even harmless in your country could offend someone in another. This advice is universal and should be followed regardless of the person’s gender identity, and is especially helpful when it comes to dating a Japanese girl. If you aren’t sure what is the right thing to do, try asking first. It might just save you from an awkward situation!
Final advice on what dating a Japanese girl is really like
Do you have any final advice for Japanese girls who want to date foreigners?
Yuka: You have to be more expressive. Japanese girls tend to be shyer because sharing their opinion is seen as bad in our culture. You can be expressive, just don’t do it in a bitchy way *laugh.* Also, don’t just look at a person just because of their ethnicity or nationality. There’s not as much diversity in Japan, so sometimes we come off as rude or inconsiderate when we ask questions to foreigners. Just date people who you like because of who they are, not what they are.
Chiho: Don’t be afraid to ask a question or show that you don’t understand something. Just be yourself and don’t be scared to express your true feelings and opinions.
Kotoe: Just one thing. Try to be open about how your feeling with your date. Japan has a huge problem with kuuki wo yomu or “reading the air.” We are really skilled at reading the atmosphere, but not so great at communicating how we’re feeling on the inside. We can understand how we’re feeling on the inside, but foreigners are raised in a different culture so it might not be as easy for them to tell how we’re feeling, so just say something and be open with how you’re feeling.
Do you have any final advice for someone who is interested in dating a Japanese girl?
Yuka: Don’t assume that girls can tell you everything that’s on their minds right away. For Japanese girls, it takes time to figure out what we want to say and how we want to say it. So please just be patient and give her time to express herself.
Chiho: Be three times more humble than usual when you’re dating a Japanese girl. Japanese girls are shy and they don’t want to be overwhelmed. Pause, talk slowly, and just take your time.
Kotoe: Even if your date is smiling on the outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it matches how she’s feeling on the inside. Don’t be in a crazy rush. Language barriers can be difficult to get through, so it’s better if you go slow and try to understand her.
In Japan, men are more expected to take the lead and, as we’ve learned, make the first move. This can be tricky if you’re new to dating in general, but it’s not as hard as you think. Try to think about how your date might be feeling, and remember that she’s a human too who’s also likely trying to bridge the cultural and language gap. Check-in with how she’s feeling throughout the date. Take care not to sound too overbearing. Sometimes the best thing to do is go for a walk or do an activity that requires you both to focus less on the language exchange and more on spending time with one another.
What you should know before dating a Japanese girl (a summary)
How to have the perfect date with a Japanese girl:
Based on the detailed information the women I interviewed shared with me, here’s a quick list of the do’s and don’ts you should know before dating a Japanese girl:
- Try to plan the date in advance. Look for a nice park or popular area that both you and your date can enjoy even if they’re from that city.
- Pick a restaurant or place that has high reviews and decent customer service. Even if the service is not the best, always be kind to the service workers and learn how to say “Please” and “Thank you” for the basics in Japanese.
- Don’t try too hard or pretend to be someone you’re not. Just be yourself.
- Be patient when having a conversation and give your date time to find the right words to say. Talking more slowly is nice but be careful not to come off as condescending.
- If you feel like your date needs a break, go to a nice park or a place where you can spend time together without having to talk the whole time. For girls who aren’t as confident with speaking English, speaking in another language can be tiresome so you will earn bonus points for giving them a chance to rest!
- Have good hygiene and make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and location - weather in Japan is not to be underestimated, especially in the summertime.
- Want to hold hands, maybe even try for a kiss…? Talk it over with your partner first or give them a chance to ‘meet you halfway.’
- If your partner says they’re fine with “PDA,” then don’t be shy to express yourself. Just remember that it’s not as widely accepted in Japan as it might be in your home country.
In reality, your chances of success when it comes to dating a Japanese girl are about the same as your chances of successfully dating a girl from any other culture. There are social and cultural norms that influence the way we interact with one another, and being aware of what is expected when it comes to dating in Japan can only double your chances of making a good impression on a girl who probably knows more about the language and culture than you do. And if you don’t know something, that’s totally okay!
Having an open mind and remembering that it’s all about give-and-take when it comes to having a conversation is the best advice I can give when it comes to dating a Japanese girl.
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