Dating life in Japan is quite different from the one in the West. Yes, people have meals at the restaurant together, hold hands (sometimes), kiss each other (occasionally). Still, there are some unique concepts like necessary hokoku or confession, gokon group dates, chocolate for men on Valentine’s day, and so on. Bad dates can happen anywhere, but if you are a foreigner who is not an expert on Japanese culture, the chance of a date turning the wrong way around is much higher. Even if you are an expert and have a degree in Japanese studies, believe me, like your favorite friend before your birthday party, Japan will prepare some surprises for you.
I have my share of bad dates in Japan. I listened to the stories of my gaijin friends, I watch Youtube and read posts on Reddit. Inspired by all of this, I prepared “The Ultimate Collection of the Worst Dates in Japan.” This article can serve as a cautionary tale for people who only entered their dating game recently or as a form of entertainment for people who are happily dating. Also, as a man, I will concentrate on the male perspective on dating but will include stories from foreign women dating Japanese men as well.
Where does a foreigner start a journey to the worst date?
Most of the people I know or met online, the journey to his/her perfect disastrous date starts on a dating app. This can be uniquely Japanese apps like Omia or Pairs, which are available only in the Japanese language, so unless you have a good command of it, you will get almost zero matches (you will get matches if you look like Brad Pitt or Scarlet Johanson though). In addition, men need to pay for the service around 5,000 yen a month, so be prepared to spend money if you actually want to meet girls. However, judging by the information online, this is the best way to find long-term relationships.
In another category, we have western dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, OK Cupid, and further. Just like abroad, Tinder is the most popular app, although the Japanese rarely use it for a one night stand. On the contrary, I saw official Tinder billboards and online ads promoting the service as an app for finding friends and foreign language exchange partners. My personal opinion – Tinder here is awful. I have no idea why so many women choose a photo of food as their profile picture. It might make you believe it is not an app to find a date but rather an app for finding a new restaurant. Many women also do not show their faces, only a picture of their hair taking from behind.
What other online services you can use to find a date in Japan? That might surprise you but many foreigners using the language exchange app, Hello Talk, to do it. Of course, people mention in their bio that they are only looking for a language exchange partner, but giving the number of Reddit posts I saw for some people, it can be a good substitute for Tinder. Before you rush to the online store to install the app, I should warn you. Please do not be that awful person who ruins the learning experience for others.
Is it possible to find a date in the “real world”? Certainly yes, but it is hard. Many of the Meetup events moved online, for example, but at least Hub is still open.
Now when you know where to find your perfect disastrous date, it is time to see what might be waiting for you next.
The Worst Dates in Japan Collection
It is common knowledge that some Japanese people are obsessed with skin and white foreigners in particular. One of the Reddit users says, “It seems like every single girl who shows any interest only wants a free English teacher or a trophy foreigner husband to be more international (plus cute hafu kids, of course).” However, sometimes this kind of preferences can lean towards extremes like in the following:
“I was seeing this girl for a short while, super shy but overall a decent person. After the second date, she got super quiet during anything but making love, then would talk nonstop after. Like an hour without me getting a word in. after the 5 or 6th date, I had asked her what she liked about me. Without dropping a beat, she said, “Your white skin” that’s it. Turns out she didn’t get any joke, I would say, and just laughed to laugh. Right after that, I realized she liked touching me, and not in the normal kind of way. I ended it pretty much then. 2 months later, she lined me and asked me for pictures of my skin to compare to her boyfriend. LOL NOPE.”
Some people may also use a foreigner to achieve their own weird goals like in this particular example:
“I’ve typed this before, but: when I first landed, I set out into Tinder and matched quickly with a hot, hot girl. Her English seemed horrible, but she was super insistent about what race I was/if I was German. I am German heritage wise, but I am American, which was good enough, I guess. She wanted to come over, no dinner date, straight to Netflix and chill. She comes over seriously…no English ability. We sit awkwardly and literally can’t even converse. I manage to understand her saying her ex was German, and she liked German guys, and then she manages to say, “draw me a bath” I’m like, “what?” “Draw me a bath” So I am confused, but I do anyways. She proceeds to bathe for like an hour, floods my whole bathroom. Comes out naked, we make love. She contacted me like two or three more times with bizarre requests, and I really hotness the vibe she wanted me to get her pregnant so. She could trap her German ex and say it was his. Yikes!!”
Some people might consider you a prince just because you are coming from the West:
“Oh oh! My friend’s ex didn’t like him having dinner with his subordinate since she was pretty. Pure work situation with the whole team. Came home to clothes cut up with scissors, water pores on his gaming pc, and a stabbed pillow with the knife still in. She then proceeded to cry and tell him how it was her dream to marry a European and go live in a castle in France. He’s Canadian of Chinese ethnicity…..”
Just like in any culture, people may care more about your job and finances, not your personality:
“”Shigotto wa nan desu ka?” is usually the first question that gets asked… What is your spot in the Borg collective? As if a man is their job and nothing beyond that. No association without benefit, I guess, unless the guy looks like a gangster and can get his money in other ways… One girl entered me into her phone contacts, where she sorted all the guys she had talked to by job and income. Is western thought about dating and relationships entirely incompatible with Japanese culture?”
There would be people who are just not that into you:
“We met up for a cup of coffee in Starbucks. I knew something was wrong from the start. When we sat down, she just pulled out her phone. “I’m really shy” was her excuse. After I tried to ask her a few questions, she says, “Just act like I’m not here”. So I stood up and left.”
As well as the people who just want you to protect you, in their own strange way:
“Had a gaming date with a guy once, and the moment he saw me use my phone to check a message from family, looked me dead in the eyes and told me to put my phone in the room at the opposite end of his apartment because ‘the government is listening’ and that he ‘knows from insider information at the post office’.”
People who want you to be a part of something bigger:
Guy told me he couldn’t date me because I was overweight and his parents didn’t like that. I told him I was trying to lose, but it’s a valid criticism. then he told me his parents would let me date him if I gave him 30,000 yen and entered his parents’ religion.’ 😶
And people who a just a little bit crazy:
“Guy whom I’d been dating briefly was driving me home when suddenly he jerked the steering wheel and almost sent us careening into a rice paddy. I screamed. He continued driving. Then, he asked if I have the ability to see ghosts (霊感). I said no, I don’t believe in the supernatural. He said, “I’ve been haunted by ghosts my entire life. In fact, I just saw one back there.””
As you could see, dating and relationships in Japan can be a weirdly unique experience. Still, just because there were people who encountered this kind of person does not mean that you will too. So if you are alone, do not be afraid of meeting new people; there must be somebody who is special for you. In case if you are afraid and can do nothing about it, just drink some Strong Zero; it can help!