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Japanese Dating Customs: An In-Depth Guide

Exploring the unique culture of Japan as a foreigner can be an intriguing experience and has long captivated the Western world. Japanese dating customs come with their own language obstacles and social conventions – making it both exciting to take on and rewarding once you find that special someone.

In this article, we’ll be covering Japanese dating and will be guiding you through navigating the numerous complexities of finding a partner in the land of The Rising Sun!

What Are Japanese Dating Customs Like?

Dating a Japanese person as an outsider can come with some unforeseen surprises. Japanese culture has many different unique aspects to it. For example, language and manners can be a bit of a contrast from what you might have previously experienced depending on where you’re from.

When dating Japanese women and men, it’s important not to forget their importance for cultural customs such as politeness and hospitality, but keep in mind that these values may not always take center stage and be immediately prominent.

Navigating the dating landscape in Japan can be complicated for a foreigner, but if approached correctly, and with knowledge of the Asian culture, communication and understanding each other can become much simpler!

Cultural Differences

When courting, Japanese people tend to take it at a different speed compared to other places located in the West. This goes for both in person and on online dating sites and apps. Both dedication and faithfulness are very important in Japanese culture and it’s common for courtship to often times be more formal and traditional than what a lot of other nations are used to.

Dating in Japan for foreigners need to realize that it’s extremely important to remain open minded of cultural differences and be open to operating outside of your comfort zone. Immersing yourself into Japanese customs will show that you respect the Japan culture and are willing to compromise. You’ll also get plenty of invaluable information about how Japanese people operate and the proper dating etiquette that’s expected.

Language Barriers

Language barriers can complicate relationships.

Regardless of which country you choose, if you’re in another place where your native language isn’t being spoken and you aren’t entirely fluent yet, there are bound to be language barriers. In Japan, don’t be surprised to find out that many locals aren’t exactly fluent in English. While you may be able to get by day to day without speaking fluent Japanese, dating because incredibly more difficult without being able to effectively communicate with your partners.

Logically this can lead to misunderstandings and frustration both everyone involved. Despite that, it’s definitely still possible to succeed even if you aren’t exactly fluent in Japanese. This just means that you should go in with the mindset that over time you will continue to invest the effort into learning the language more and that the more experiences you have the more practice you will get.

Using a translation app will really only get you so far, so prioritize improving your Japanese over the long haul. Not only will you be able to better express your feelings much clearer when speaking Japanese, you’ll also be able to connect with others on a much deeper level. Studying the local lingo can help to really get immersed in Japan’s unique customs.

Social Norms

Successfully dating in Japan requires being aware of certain social norms, which can be quite different from those common with Western couples. “Reading the air” is a concept that refers to understanding an environment without verbal communication.

This sensitivity to what isn’t said plays an important role for Japanese couples who tend to stay relatively restrained and indirect with one another. It’s common for a heavy amount of understanding the other partner’s nuances to be rather important.

Public displays of affection are typically not common and sometimes even frowned upon. It’s usually best not engage in PDA when out on dates as privacy and respect for others that might be nearby is important. It’s really important that when dating someone from Japan, you pay attention to details like these and be willing to demonstrate appreciation for the culture norms.

The Role of Dating Apps in Japan

In addition to the prevalence of things like speed dating, there are also plenty of popular Japanese dating apps available. Some you might already be familiar with, like Tinder and Bumble, but others are a bit more niched in Japanese culture and are primarily used by Japanese people who live there.

Both foreign and domestic users can find a platform that fits their needs, whether that’s more casual flings or something serious like a long-term relationship.

Understanding Japanese Relationship Expectations

Japanese adults often times attach significant importance to dedication, humility, and family unity. which influences how romantic associations may progress.

For instance, couples in Japan tend to talk about marriage and future plans early on when courting. As previously mentioned, PDA/public displays of affection aren’t often encouraged and are downright frowned upon.

Confessions and Commitment

One thing you may notice about Japanese dating culture is the importance of confessions. This typically is when someone formally expresses their romantic feelings for someone else and formally asks them out, signaling they want to make a commitment with that person that usually will lead into something more long term.

Casual dating isn’t as commonly practiced in Japanese culture and isn’t as widespread across Japan compared to many Western countries. This is why often times most relationships lead to something long term because both people are expecting each other will be willing to commit.

Public Displays of Affection (PDA)

We’ve already mentioned this a couple of times in this article, but when it comes to dating in Japan, public displays of affection (PDA) is usually viewed as inappropriate. Couples value privacy and respect for others, and holding hands or kissing in public isn’t usually practiced. Keep this in mind because when showing signs of affection towards your Japanese partner, you’ll want to be aware that expressing those feelings in a public setting might very well make them uncomfortable and uneasy.

That being said, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Some exceptions may include things like holding hands in certain settings, briefly hugging the other person, and giving/receiving a small kiss on the cheek.

These are typically seen as more acceptable forms of PDA and are common when on solo dates and when group dating.

Marriage and Family Values

Briefly touched on before, marriage and relationships are viewed in a very significant light, which often leads to conversations about long term plans. Be prepared to meet your partner’s parents as this is an important indication that the relationship has become serious with intentions for marriage on both sides. You’ll especially want to familiarize yourself with Japanese traditions and customs before meeting the family as first impressions are extremely important.

At the end of the day, while being nervous is definitely very normal and reasonable, remember that putting in the effort to understand the culture and genuinely trying your best to be mindful of expectations and to try to act accordingly really is all you can do. If you prepare and speak with your partner beforehand, they should be able to walk you through how you should behave and things should go just fine.

Challenges Faced by Foreigners Dating in Japan

While this isn’t always the case, stereotypes and cultural barriers can present unique challenges for those who are looking to build relationships here. In order to effectively overcome these obstacles, having an open minded attitude goes a long way.

While you can’t always control how someone else will view you or treat you, you can do your best to assimilate with the local culture and to show respect. Becoming familiar with any potential issues beforehand will help ensure that your interactions go as smoothly as possible.

Stereotypes and “Gaijin Hunters”

Misconceptions about foreign individuals can be a big barrier when trying to form genuine relationships with Japanese partners. There are certain people who deliberately search for relationships with expats living in the country and you’ll find that, they have have other motives besides just romance.

Gaijin hunters is a term coined for Japanese men or women (although this is usually more common for Japanese girls) who specifically seek out foreigners for relationships. It’s not just that the Japanese woman or man is physically attracted to someone who isn’t originally from Japan, but the issue arises when they are trying to stand out and use the other person to show off.

Navigating Cultural Misunderstandings

It is important for both partners to keep an accepting attitude while trying to understand each other better through embracing their unique cultures – not only will this strengthen your bond together as individuals, but it also can help enrich your personal experience living in Japan. Learning about the other person in a relationship can be fun and it gives you a deeper understanding of them and their background.

LGBTQ+ Dating in Japan

LGBTQ+ dating is quite accepted in Japanese culture these days.

You may be surprised to hear this, but these days, the Japanese community is quite accepting of queer individuals and LGBTQ+ in general. While some older folks may still have certain preconceived notions, this isn’t anything that you wouldn’t expect to experience in other areas of the world as well.

It’s a sign of the times and these days you’ll find that there are plenty of folks dating all sorts of people. There are also LGBTQ+ Japanese dating app options available that make helping others even easier.

Popular LGBTQ+ Dating Apps

There are multiple LGBTQ+ dating apps available and widely used in Japan. Some of these include Jack’d, 9Monsters, and even the app that’s popular in the West, Grindr. Jack’d and 9Monsters are definitely a bit more niched that something like Grindr, but it ultimately depends what your end goal is.

If you’re looking for a serious relationship and not just some fun flings, you can also try Bumble and Tinder as they are quite popular in Japan as well and will allow you to set your dating preferences and find what you’re looking for.

Summary

Japanese dating customs can be interesting for foreigners who aren’t yet familiar with certain expectations and cultural norms.

While finding that special someone can be an extremely rewarding experience, there are some things that you should remain aware of when looking for potential partners. Just remember that by being open minded to Japanese dating culture, being respectful of cultural norms, and doing your best to improve your Japanese language skills you’re more than likely to find the right person for you.

Whether this is going to be your first time visiting Japan or if you’re already living there for some time now, we’re hopeful that this article gave you some helpful insights!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can foreigners date in Japan?

Despite cultural and societal differences, foreigners can absolutely successfully date in Japan. Matter of fact, people who didn’t grow up in the country move there all the time and it’s quite common to see them end up with Japanese partners. Those with an open-minded attitude and the willingness to learn can find someone special or even a soulmate there.

What is the 3 date rule in Japan?

In Japan, two dates must take place before a third date is considered. While that may seem like an obvious statement, the third date usually entails the man asking the woman if she would be his girlfriend and go steady. This three date custom is normal practice and something that is common place.

How many dates before kiss in Japan?

On average, in Japan a kiss usually takes place after the third date. The idea isn’t too novel if you think about it. By the third date, both people will be more comfortable with each other and will have a decent idea if they’d like to pursue things further. Sealing the deal with a kiss makes a lot of sense at that point.

What challenges do foreigners face when dating in Japan?

Most of the challenges that foreigners face when dating in Japan are actually pretty obvious. The language barrier can certainly cause problems if both people aren’t relatively fluent in the same language. Improving your Japanese also greatly increases your chances for finding someone else in the first place. On top of that, there are some pretty significant cultural differences and expectations that exist in Japan and might not be as common in other places of the world.

Are public displays of affection (PDA) common in Japan?

PDA isn’t very common in Japan and if you’re a foreigner dating around, it’s usually best to be mindful of this. The last thing you want is to make the other person uncomfortable. Take things slow and be sure to read the room. It’s always best to be more modest when showing affection and always make sure that both people are comfortable before doing so in public.

Jonathan Z

Jon is one of the two Jons that runs Kuuki. He's a big fan of Nintendo, cats, and Japanese culture. He dreams of one day living abroad in Japan, but for now will settle for simply writing about it.

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