Walking under the Sakura trees as the blossoms fall down and land on your face while your cute Japanese date is looking at you with a starry look in their eyes? Blushing with excitement as they nudge your hand away as you try to pay half of your meal in an attempt to impress your date? If you want to learn more about what dating is like in Japan, then make sure to read this article all the way to the end!
The Basics of Dating in Japan
How To Meet Prospective Partners
If you have been living in Japan for quite some time now and want to try your hand at dating and having someone you could call your girlfriend/boyfriend, then try your luck with dating apps. Social meeting apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OKCupid are becoming more and more popular, especially with the growing number of young Japanese people. Tinder is quite popular among a majority of Japanese locals while the latter ones have a variety of people with a lot of them being foreigners.
A more traditional way to meet people is through Goukon commonly known as Group Dates. This is especially unique in Japan and it involves an equal number of people of the opposite sex. This can be organized by friends say, for example, one of the female members inviting two women to join, and the same goes for the men. This group date can range from very formal dinners to a karaoke session in Shibuya. This way of meeting people is quite popular as it is considered a safe way to mingle and get to know prospective dates with your friends in tow.
Another well-known method of dating is called Konkatsu Parties or in other words, Matchmaking parties. This type of event can be very formal and professionally organized by companies that specialize in finding partners. In some cases, women are free to join this event whereas men are required to pay. This event involves freely mingling and speaking with different people at the party or following a very strict set of rules like speed dating where you are only given a few minutes to speak with each participant.
Japanese people are still considered pretty much on the conservative side, so tone down any urges to immediately touch or any form of handholding. “Skinship” is a big thing in Japan so once you’ve established a strong connection, you may try this and see how they react or even some women report appreciating the gesture of asking to hold their hand, for instance.
If it is your first time meeting, it is good to dress well but not anything too flashy and avoid using strong perfume. Most people schedule meet-ups in public places such as parks or cafes. Who pays for the date is also somewhat similar to the West in which women are expected to “try to pay” and men should refuse at all costs. This is gradually changing for the younger generation and a lot of couples take turns in paying or dividing the cost. It is still, however, regarded highly especially on a first date.
How to Become an Official Couple
Although this is not considered the norm in most countries, a Confession or Kokuhaku is essential in dating among Japanese people. If you watch a lot of anime, then you are probably familiar with this occurrence. Typically, either the man or the woman speaks to the other person privately and verbally declares their intention to date you by asking you if you want to be their girlfriend or boyfriend. Once you have given an answer, then congratulations! You are officially in a relationship!
If you have been dating for quite some time now and you are ready for the next step, then it is time to meet the parents! Unlike Western Culture where you introduce your prom date to your parents in high school, arranging a meeting with the family of your significant other is a big deal and is regarded as a very special occasion. Many couples date and even cohabit for years without meeting each other’s families. If you have proposed or are planning to, then meeting your future in-laws is expected very soon. Make sure to be very polite, greet them, and observe proper Japanese house etiquette like removing your shoes at the entrance or genkan and bringing omiyage as a gift.
Other than anniversaries, Valentine’s Day is not only widely celebrated in the US or Europe but also in Japan. During this occasion, stores are fully decorated with balloons and hearts in every corner. There are also a bunch of sales and discounts for cakes, chocolates and flowers. In Japan, people not only buy gifts for their partners or close family members but it is generally known to bring a box of chocolate to work to share with colleagues. Unlike in other parts of the world, women in Japan are usually the ones who give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day. However, White Day, which is also a unique romantic holiday in Japan as well as Korea, is the day when the men reciprocate this gesture by gifting back the women. On both of these holidays, cinemas, parks, hotels, and restaurants are fully booked so it is good to make reservations months ahead.
Japanese people are very indirect and have a hard time with confrontations. It is pretty customary to actually ghost your girlfriend or boyfriend and block them without giving a clear explanation. Some prefer to have a clean break by telling their partner face-to-face that they would like to end things. Others opt to do this through text or phone as well so there really is no Japanese way of breaking things off. One thing to know is that the concept of cheating is very different in Japan for example, going to a prostitute or a brothel is not considered cheating by a lot of people but is definitely frowned upon in other countries.
This sums up the basics of dating in Japan. We are all human beings at the end of the day with different sets of traditions, values, and upbringing so all of the tips here aren’t applicable to every single relationship in Japan. Take this with a grain of salt as you navigate your way to finding the right love for you in Japan.