Japanese Dating Culture: All You Should Know About Dating In Japan
Japanese dating culture is complex, difficult to understand for Western people, and can be a serious problem for those who know nothing about Japan and Japanese people. Here, we’ll do our best in order to help you understand their dating etiquette. In this guide, you’ll find 5 facts about dating in Japan, 5 differences between Western couples and Japanese ones, and 7 tips that will help you date a Japanese girl successfully.
5 interesting facts about dating in Japan
- Japanese people tend to date offline rather than online. Thus, the user penetration for dating apps is only around 6%—it’s almost three times lower than in the United States, where the penetration rate is 17.6%.
- However, this doesn’t mean that online dating sites are not popular in this country at all. The situation is changing, and the industry is growing instantly—the growth of dating app installs, for example, increased by 19% from 2020 to 2021.
- Japan faces a serious “relationship” crisis, with more than 10,000,000 adults living without a partner. That’s not all, actually: around 30% of adults under 30 in Japan have never dated; around 45% of women in Japan between 16 and 24 are not interested in sexual contact; 65% of women aged 18 to 24 are single and 24.4% of women aged 35-39 are single, too. All this makes Japan one of the most “single” countries in the region.
- With all the numbers mentioned above, it wouldn’t be wise to expect Japanese women to have a lot of children. The TFR (total fertility rate) in this country is only 1.34 (children per woman), which is one of the lowest rates in the region. Of course, there are some countries that perform even worse in this context—in South Korea, for example, it’s even lower (0.84).
- Another obvious fact is that the rate of young Japanese women who are married is pretty low. Thus, less than 20% of Japanese girls in their 20s have a spouse (the rate is even lower for Japanese men, 13.6%). And here’s another interesting fact that shouldn’t surprise you—the mean age of first marriage for a Japanese woman is 29.4 years old.
Where to meet Japanese people?
💬 💑 Online dating in Japan
Of course, online dating is incredibly convenient and affordable—you don’t need to go to Japan right away, you don’t need to approach women on the streets, etc. You just need to sign up on a platform, upload some photos, and start searching for a romantic relationship.
However, Japan is different from other Western countries regarding its patterns of using social media and dating apps. Thus, the most popular messaging app in Japan is LINE, not Instagram or Twitter, and when it comes to dating apps, it’s Pairs and Tapple that top the charts there.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to sign up on these two platforms to start dating Japanese ladies. The point is that the women interested in dating foreigners, especially American men, are typically focused on specialized “niche” dating services. Japanese dating sites don’t have millions of users, but most of the ladies you can meet there are genuinely interested in dating a guy from the United States, the UK, or Canada. Admittedly, there are fewer members there, but it’s much easier to find a romantic/marriage partner there because of three reasons:
- Women on international dating sites are focused on long-term relationships and are interested in relationships with foreign men.
- They typically speak English quite well, which is a very important factor when it comes to Japanese dating.
- International dating apps usually have an ID verification tool, so it’s easier to spot fake profiles on these apps than on non-international platforms.
If you are going to sign up on one of those Japanese dating apps, here’s the list of the best dating platforms for you. Our experts test them all, they are trustworthy and reputable, and they all have thousands of real Japanese men and women interested in meeting a foreigner!
🍸💑 Offline Dating in Japan
Tokyo is obviously the #1 choice when it comes to offline dating in Japan. A lot of speed dating events, lots of konkatsu parties (matchmaking events typically held at hotels and restaurants), and lots of people interested in gokon meetings (group date events where people meet through a mutual friend).
Tokyo is also a perfect option for those interested in hookups because it’s the epicenter of nightlife in Japan. Cities like Kyoto (often called the most romantic city in Japan), Osaka, and Hiroshima are also worth visiting if you want to find a partner.
Differences in customs habits between Americans and Japanese
When it comes to comparing Japanese dating culture vs American one, there are several main differences you need to understand to succeed. Here, we’ll talk about the main 6 differences between dating in Japan and dating in the United States/in the West.
Group dating is very popular in Japan
It’s not something common when it comes to Western couples, but Japanese adults often go out in groups. It’s called “gokon,” and such dates are usually organized by a man and woman who know each other and bring 3-4 friends to a restaurant, club, or bar (such bars are called izakaya). Men and women sit opposite and communicate with one another while whispering or sending messages to their same-sex friends about the guys or girls they find interesting and attractive.
Japan has much more singles than the United States
The country is in a relationship crisis, as you already know. Japanese people tend to stay single nowadays, and it’s much more common than in Western countries—more than half of women and men in their 20s are single in Japan, which is one of the highest “single rates” in the world.
You need to say that you’re in a relationship out loud
Kokuhaku (confession) is a very important part of the Japanese dating culture. The relationship starts with the act of kokuhaku—it’s when Japanese people say something like “I like/love you. Can we start having a relationship/dating each other?” Only after this couple considered exclusive. However, this is not the same as saying, “I love you.”
They don’t say “I love you”
You may have heard the “aishiteru” word in Japanese romance dramas, but in real Japanese dating culture, this word is reserved for truly special people. When they start dating and meeting each other, they may use the word “daisuki,” which means “really like,” or “suki,” which is “love,” but it’s more like “I love pizza” or “I love playing games,” etc. So, the point here is: they may say, “I love you,” but it doesn’t really mean it unless it’s “aishiteru,” and if it’s “aishiteru,” well, it’s extremely serious.
They don’t often live together before marriage
Unmarried couples can live together in Japan, but it’s not that common. In 2021, for example, only 6.4% of unmarried women have lived together with a romantic partner before, which shows that the concept of cohabitation is less common in Japan than in the West.
How to succeed in the Japanese dating scene as a newcomer?
Here, we’ll tell you some useful tips regarding dating Japanese women. Just read them, and you’ll have much higher chances of impressing a Japanese girl than before!
- In Japan, it’s very important to “read the air”. Ba no kuuki wo yomu means “understanding the situation without words,” and it’s one of the most important concepts a foreigner must understand before even trying to date a Japanese woman. The literal translation is “reading the air,” and in short, this is the concept that makes Japan such an indirect-speaking country, unlike the USA, where people have no problems speaking their minds. However, in Japan, you’ll need to understand what’s left unsaid and what was said between the lines to communicate with your partner successfully.
- Be ready for long dates. Japanese couples tend to have very long dates. It’s not just 1 or 2 hours in Japan—it’s totally ok for Japanese people to have a half- or even a whole-day date event. The point is, they don’t have enough time for numerous dates, so they prefer to have fewer but more lengthy ones.
- Forget about PDA. It’s another important rule to pay attention to when meeting Japanese women. Dating culture here has a lot of differences from the American one, and the views on public displays of affection are one of those differences. It’s not only about making out or kissing but also about touching each other and holding hands—the Japanese dating culture is much less sexual and touchy, especially when it comes to showing affection in public.
- Learn her language. Obviously, you will not become a fluent Japanese speaker because it takes around 2,200 hours to learn this language for English natives. For fluency, you’ll need around 4,800 hours, which is 6.5 years if you’re going to spend 2 hours per day. However, it’s still very important to learn the language of your girlfriend in order to show her that you’re serious about the relationship and to understand her better.
- Be ready for different expressions of feelings. In the West, it’s more about verbal expressions and physical contact—we hug, kiss, and tell people we love them in order to express it. But in Japan, it doesn’t work like that. Your Japanese girlfriend will probably feel uncomfortable if you’re going to do it in a Western way—in Japan, they value non-verbal signs and communication.
- Don’t be too confident or aggressive. Aggressive dating behavior may work well in some countries, especially when we’re talking about Latin America—but in Japanese relationship culture, it doesn’t work like that. Here, you need to be calm and not “too confident” to impress Japanese ladies.
- Don’t expect anything on the first date. Just don’t. Japanese people do not typically have sex on the first date because their culture is slightly more conservative than the one we have in the West. This is especially true if you’re interested in a serious relationship—marriage-minded ladies will never allow themselves to do anything like that.
Our Editors’ conclusion
“I can’t say it’s incredibly easy to find a dating partner in Japan or impress a Japanese person on the first date. It’s not that easy, of course—the Japanese culture is complex and difficult to understand, as I’ve said at the beginning of the guide. But with all the info you got here, you should not worry about it. All the tips and facts will help you find and impress a Japanese partner—so all you have to do now is find a good dating app and start chatting with Japanese people there.”