From Shy to Bold: How Japanese Guys Flirt | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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From Shy to Bold: How Japanese Guys Flirt

By Guidable Writers Jun 16, 2021

Japanese guys often appear to be polite, peaceful, hardworking, and sometimes shy. So when it comes to dating, how do Japanese guys flirt? What are the usual steps they take to woo the person they are most interested in? Let’s take a look at how Japanese guys flirt these days.

How Do Japanese Guys Flirt?

Japanese Guys Flirt. Couple on a lunch dateImage Credit: Canva

I’m sure you’ve heard stories of women often getting hit on by some stranger in the streets or stations. Most often you’ll see that happen in major cities like Tokyo or Osaka where the nightlife is quite vibrant and lively. Often times a Japanese guy approaches you in the hopes of having someone to join them for a drink or a bite to eat. With the help of alcohol, Japanese guys are given the courage to approach people in the streets. But is this a form of flirting? It certainly is one way that Japanese guys flirt, but a rather risky one, don’t you think? 

So how do they flirt when they’re sober you may ask, well after consulting with a few gentlemen, the consensus was simply through subtle compliments. For someone who was not born or raised in Japan, the types of compliments may sound strange or even insulting. As with any country, Japan has its own beauty standards. Some of which may make you scratch your head and wonder about them. One example that Japanese women are encouraged to desire is a “small” face. Although you can’t change the shape or size of a face, there are plenty of techniques and tricks to make it appear smaller. 

If you are ever speaking with a Japanese guy and they tell you “You have a small face,” they are probably trying to flirt with you. While it’s not as direct as “you are beautiful” it’s their way of saying so. Remember, beauty standards often stem from historical associations, such as pale skin being linked to “purity” and “delicacy,” since the wealthy avoided sun exposure and hard labor. This is a general standard and does not mean its definite. The way Japanese guys flirt may be different from what you are used to and to some it may not seem like flirting.

Other ways that Japanese guys flirt can involve sharing common interests, like music. If you notice a guy constantly asking what you’re listening to, recommendations on music, or giving you songs to listen to, he may be flirting with you. This passive approach is often seen with people you work with, go to school with, or interact with daily. It is less straightforward. 

Another method of flirting is asking to hang out with you (one on one). Believe it or not, if you are hanging out with the opposite gender, it is considered a date by Japanese standards. Therefore you won’t see many male and female friendships unless it’s with a group of three or more. So if a Japanese guy is asking you to hang out, chances are he’s interested in you.

Japanese often think people from abroad, especially those from Western countries, are very straightforward and passionate in romantic relationships. Meanwhile, the Japanese are the contrary, they are rather passive. It’s said that younger generations are becoming less and less interested in love. A recent survey revealed that over 33% of single adults aged 20 to 40 have never experienced a romantic relationship, and 25% have no plans to ever marry. There has even been a rise in “Friendship Marriages” which have nothing to do with love but rather of convenience. 

You may have heard words like soushoku kei and nikushoku kei which are the two types of people in the dating world. Soushoku kei, meaning herbivory, is used to describe passive guys who aren’t interested in romance and don’t actively pursue those who they’re interested in. Nikushoku kei, meaning predatory, is often used to describe people who are direct and try to win their love interest’s heart. Soushoku kei danshi (guys) and nikushoku kei joshi (girls) are opposites.

PDA (Physical Display of Affection) in Japan

Couple having lunch outsideImage Credit: Canva

With several couples in Japan, you will often see them holding hands and rarely ever kissing. PDA is certainly limited due to Japanese societal standards, for example always thinking of others and how they might feel. But it’s also to do with embarrassment, even a kiss on the cheek in public is seen as something that could draw too much attention. Although we are seeing a slight shift in what would be considered “too much” PDA, like seeing a couple lean on each other on the train or bus, kissing and sitting on your partner’s lap is still not an accepted norm. With most people, they try to avoid any all attention they may draw, especially negative attention, so don’t be surprised when a Japanese guy doesn’t appear overly affectionate. 

Expressing Love

Couple holding handsImage Credit: Canva

Westerners are often used to expressing their feelings, especially to loved ones. Words like “I love you” are ones that are often exchanged among partners, friends, and family. So it would be surprising to find out that in Japan, people dont really say it. You may think “is there no word for it?” but there is! Aishiteru is “I love you” but you dont really hear it said between people. A common word that is used is Suki which means “I like you” or Daisuki which means “I really like you.” Even then, such words are not loosely used when expressing feelings towards people. One can assume that perhaps words hold a heavy meaning and therefore shouldnt be used so freely. It can also be said that Japanese partners assume that their counterpart knows how they feel and has no need to express it through words. This is not to say they dont express it at all, but they may express it in other ways. 

How Japanese Guys Flirt Differently From Guys in Other Countries

It can be said that some of these findings can be applied to all men, but this is simply taking into account the country and its culture. Next time when you’re out observing couples in Japan, maybe you’ll find other funny and interesting aspects of typical habits and behaviors among Japanese people.

What do you think of how Japanese guys flirt?


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Featured Image Credit: Canva