Dating in Japan 101: Tips and Advice from a Foreigner

I've lived in Japan for almost seven years now and dating was a struggle before I met my now husband – especially for a foreign woman. I had my fair share of dating Japanese men and was completely out of luck so I settled mostly with dating non Japanese men. I'm more attracted to the handsome, creative, and outspoken type and that didn't seem to be a thing in Tokyo at the time.

I met my husband on Instagram unexpectedly. The one thing that attracted me to him was his communication skills, his curiosity for me, and his passionate mind. He lived in LA for eight years, he's Japanese, and understands my culture. I realized quickly that, that's what I needed!

I do realize there are plenty of people out there who are wanting a guide to dating Japanese men and women so I will give my advice on that but this article will be general advice and tips you can take on any date with any race or ethnicity.

I was very open to dating anyone who could spark up a witty and charming conversation. I had a mix of good and bad relationships eventually making the right decision for me. I made some mistakes along the way but we're only human, right?

Here's what I did to be successful in the dating scene abroad:


Tip #1

Get Yourself Out There

Don't be lazy. If you're ready to take on the world and find that partner in crime don't be afraid to mingle a little. Your perfect someone isn't going to walk right through your front door and sweep you off your feet, you need to make yourself known!

Tip #2

Use Dating Apps & Social Media

It's 2020, people! Dating apps have had their breakthrough and are widely used around the world. They're not just “hook-up” apps. There are genuine people looking to meet a person like you out there; you just have to take the time to sift through all the bad ones to get to the good ones. I know it sucks but if dating apps aren't your thing, try Instagram! I followed my husband because of his amazing photography and he eventually slid into my DMs.

The dating app I used the most was Bumble. This app is great for women because the woman needs to engage in the conversation first before moving on with the connection. I felt that more people were looking for real relationships vs. Tinder. I also made a few girl friends with their BFF feature. I think I had the most fun on dates with this particular app.

Another great app, especially if you live in Japan or another country is ‘Meetup` app. This app is great for language groups and fun events. There`s a singles meetup group in Tokyo if you'd like to mingle in person! I have never been to one myself but based on the pictures, all the events looked really fun! This is highly recommended.

Tip #3

Take Your Time

Don't rush into the date when you first meet or match with someone. See if you two can have a good conversation just through text messages. For me, if a guy can't joke around, keep up with a conversation, or asks me zero questions it's a NO for me. In the beginning I made the mistake of talking to someone for a night and made plans to meet up the next day because my curiosity got the best of me. They ended up being the worst dates and a biggest waste of time.

I suggest you take things slow if you're using a dating app. If you met someone in person, take a few days off and send them engaging text messages to see if they can keep up with the amazing person that you are.

Tip #4

Swipe Everyone You're INTERESTED In, Even If They're Far Away

Don't be afraid to swipe someone if it looks like they aren't in your area. Sometimes apps can show you people who are miles away because they were once nearby. You'll never know if they are just traveling for a short time and they will be back.

Don't swipe every single person you come across. Doing this will just get you some bad dates if you don't take the time to read their profile, etc. I won't lie though, I've been cat-fished a couple times.

Tip #5

Make Sure You're On the Same Page

I made the horrible mistake of not asking if each person who I had a connection with was in Japan long-term or not. I would go on the date and they would tell me they were leaving in a week or month. It was such a waste of time.

Unless you're genuinely looking for a hook-up, don't forget to find out what they've been up to or if they are just visiting. Also, try to find out the intentions of the person you've connected with. Tell them you're looking for a real connection that would last if things went well and see what their response is.


Tip #1

Don't Expect A Relationship

If you go into the date hoping that person will end up being your girlfriend or boyfriend, it puts a lot of stress and pressure on you and possibly the other person. If you meet up with someone wishing that you had someone in your life, you'll just end up asking all the wrong questions and rushing conversations. Slow down, take a deep breath, and don't expect anything to come of it. Doing it this way could end up making you feel more grateful and more surprised in the end. Trust me, it's the best feeling when that does happen and I promise you, over time, it will.

If you're dating someone Japanese, it's best to not expect much. The dating scene is a little slower in Japan than it is in any western countries. Feelings aren't always clear right away and it may take some time to really get that person to open up so be patient when you date someone Japanese.

Tip #2

Make Eye Contact and Ask A lot of Questions

The biggest turn off on a first date is when you mostly talk about yourself. I feel, especially from a woman's perspective, we like to be asked a lot of questions because it makes us feel like the man is genuinely interested. Compliments, eye contact, not looking at your phone are all basic first date tips for when you're looking for the right one.

If you're dating someone Japanese and there's a bit of a language barrier, teach each other something! Teach each other your language and have fun with it. Learn about each other's culture and way of life. If they speak some English, ask them how they learned and compliment how brave they are for taking on a difficult language such as English. Show some interest in their background and hope that they will do the same with you

Tip #3

Test Your Chemistry

Most people say to take it slow in the beginning. Get to know someone's personality on a deeper level before you do anything physical. I agree to some degree but at least by the third date, try to move in for a kiss. If you don't have that physical tension or attraction, then there can be no real spark and the relationship is less likely to last. I believe you need to discover if the two of you are in sync on that second base level.

I dated a guy who had a beautiful personality but when we kissed, I didn't feel that spark. Everything felt out of sync and we weren't reading each other's body language accurately enough.

If you meet the right person, the physical part of it should be natural and effortless.

When it comes to dating someone who is native to Japan, like I said, things tend to go much slower so try not to come off too strong and respect the individual.


Tip #1

Extinguish Any Past Relationships

If you're still hanging out with your ex or even talking about them, then you're not ready to allow someone else to come into your life.

You MUST extinguish the flames of your past in order to move forward into the future and beyond. Even if the person. You’re currently dating says they're ok with you talking to our ex, most cases, they are lying and just trying to respect you. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Tip #2

Practice Self Love

Before you try any of the advice I just gave you, it is best to discover a relationship within yourself before you get into a relationship with another. If you always put yourself down or are unhappy just being alone then you won't be happy with anyone else.

Accomplish self-love by traveling more often, experience things you've never experienced before, date without the intention of a relationship. Discover what you want and don't want in someone and even in yourself.

If you can be happy being alone then once you're in a relationship the only thing that will make you even MORE happy is when you can make your partner happy.

And THAT is true love.

Here are some resources for you below!

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2020 Kelly Morita