Dating as an expat is hard. You’ll probably have some kind of language barrier, and even if you speak the local language, you need to find someone who is willing to date outside their culture (assuming you are dating a local). In Japan, the focus is on dating the locals. I don’t even need to touch on the type of people who say they “only date Japanese” – these people are lame and also loads of other blogs who talk for pages about it. I just thought I’d have a nice frank post about dating as a foreigner, in Japan.
Of course, the first thing when talking about dating in Japan is that people think it’s easy for western guys to get girls and impossible for western girls to get guys. When I lived in Japan, I knew many really amazing western guys who were pretty unlucky in love. They were handsome and gentlemanly but it just wasn’t happening. I also know a fair few women out in Japan with Japanese boyfriends and husbands, and all are pretty happy. I myself have dated 2 J-guys on the long term and a handful of awkward mini relationships with guys that it just didn’t work out with.
So, how do you get a boy/girlfriend in Japan? The key, as with any situation is that you concentrate on having fun – not on finding the one. It took me a long time to realise this. I’d go to events and things and focus on which guys I thought I had a chance with. But you need to just do your thing, meet people, make friends, and then everything will fall into place.
It’s hard when you’re an expat because you feel homesick sometimes, and there are things you don’t understand, and you feel lonely, too. You start to think that getting a boy/girlfriend will solve everything for you. You’d have someone to be with all the time, and if they are a local, they can explain the culture and the language to you, too! I thought that in Japan, so went on a wild hunt to get a guy. I did – a wonderful guy who was kind and sweet and good looking. But it wasn’t right. I wasn’t dating him for the right reasons – just for the sake of it. I broke it off with him far too late, and broke his heart too. I’m really ashamed of that.
BUT if you did really want a boy/girlfriend in Japan, here are a few ways to find one -
1. Get out! Someone once told me that when you live in Japan, just get out the house. Even if it’s to buy an apple. Those were his words. And I think it’s true. You’re not going to learn the language or make friends by sitting at home at your kotatsu. Go to events, go to that lame looking international festival those sweet old ladies wanted you to go to. Go talk to the guy at the counter at the combini. GO!
2. Find a bar – not a gaijin bar, a local bar – and keep going there until you become a local. I did this with a bar in Ise, and made loads of friends there. I made the mistake of telling other foreigners about this amazing bar I found and soon enough EVERYONE was there. But if you go to a mainly Japanese bar, you can practise your Japanese and you’ll be rare in your gaijin-ness so it’s easy to make friends (and potentially pick up a date).
3. Mixi.jp is a Japanese social network… but you need a Japanese mobile phone, and an invite, to join. If you have an account, you can join the community of wherever you live in Japan and start interacting with the people there. A word of warning, especially for the girls out there – when I used this, and got speaking with a guy, the next stage of the relationship seemed to be “let’s go for a drive”. No one seemed to understand that I will not get into a car with a stranger. Japanese guys found it highly annoying that I wouldn’t just lighten up and get in a car with them. But be careful – you never know what might happen. Play it safe, people!
4. Go to a gokon! Gokon are Japanese dating parties. Usually you’ll have a set number of boys and girls, and you will go to a Japanese restaurant like an izakaya together. You’d usually swap phone numbers with the person you like and then take it from there. I went to a few of these. I found them really funny. I never was successful from them, though.
I want to do a German post similar to this, but with more of an emphasis on meeting people as opposed to boy/girlfriends. But if you have any tips for the boys and girls out there on how to find love in Japan, let me know!