The Shocking Truth About Dating in Japan as a Foreigner
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The country is undergoing major social transition after 20 years of economic stagnation. It is also battling against the effects on its already nuclear-destruction-scarred psyche of 's earthquake, tsunami and radioactive meltdown.
There is no going back. They don't believe it can lead anywhere," says Aoyama. Japanese men have become less career-driven, and less solvent, as lifetime job security has waned. Japanese women have become more independent and ambitious.
Yet conservative attitudes in the home and workplace persist. Japan's punishing corporate world makes it almost impossible for women to combine a career and family, while children are unaffordable unless both parents work.
Firebombing of Tokyo
Cohabiting or unmarried parenthood is still unusual, dogged by bureaucratic disapproval. Aoyama says the sexes, especially in Japan's giant cities, are "spiralling away from each other". Lacking long-term shared goals, many are turning to what she terms "Pot Noodle love" — easy or instant gratification, in the form of casual sex, short-term trysts and the usual technological suspects: Or else they're opting out altogether and replacing love and sex with other urban pastimes.
Some of Aoyama's clients are among the small minority who have taken social withdrawal to a pathological extreme. They are recovering hikikomori "shut-ins" or recluses taking the first steps to rejoining the outside world, otaku geeksand long-term parasaito shingurus parasite singles who have reached their mids without managing to move out of home.
Of the estimated 13 million unmarried people in Japan who currently live with their parents, around three million are over the age of They flinch if I touch them," she says. Keen to see her nation thrive, she likens her role in these cases to that of the Edo period courtesans, or oiranwho used to initiate samurai sons into the art of erotic pleasure. Aversion to marriage and intimacy in modern life is not unique to Japan. Nor is growing preoccupation with digital technology.
But what endless Japanese committees have failed to grasp when they stew over the country's procreation-shy youth is that, thanks to official shortsightedness, the decision to stay single often makes perfect sense. This is true for both sexes, but it's especially true for women. For Japanese women today, marriage is the grave of their hard-won careers. Tomita has a job she loves in the human resources department of a French-owned bank.
A fluent French speaker with two university degrees, she avoids romantic attachments so she can focus on work. After that, I lost interest in dating. It became awkward when the question of the future came up. You end up being a housewife with no independent income. It's not an option for women like me. The World Economic Forum consistently ranks Japan as one of the world's worst nations for gender equality at work. Social attitudes don't help.
Married working women are sometimes demonised as oniyome, or "devil wives". Her end was not pretty. Prime minister Shinzo Abe recently trumpeted long-overdue plans to increase female economic participation by improving conditions and daycare, but Tomita says things would have to improve "dramatically" to compel her to become a working wife and mother.
I go out with my girl friends — career women like me — to French and Italian restaurants. I buy stylish clothes and go on nice holidays.
The Shocking Truth About Dating in Japan as a Foreigner
I love my independence. They assume I'm desperate because I'm single. It's the word I hear both sexes use most often when they talk about their relationship phobia. Romantic commitment seems to represent burden and drudgery, from the exorbitant costs of buying property in Japan to the uncertain expectations of a spouse and in-laws. And the centuries-old belief that the purpose of marriage is to produce children endures.
The sense of crushing obligation affects men just as much. Satoru Kishino, 31, belongs to a large tribe of men under 40 who are engaging in a kind of passive rebellion against traditional Japanese masculinity. Amid the recession and unsteady wages, men like Kishino feel that the pressure on them to be breadwinning economic warriors for a wife and family is unrealistic.
They are rejecting the pursuit of both career and romantic success. Kishino says he doesn't mind the label because it's become so commonplace. He defines it as "a heterosexual man for whom relationships and sex are unimportant". The phenomenon emerged a few years ago with the airing of a Japanese manga-turned-TV show.
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The lead character in Otomen "Girly Men" was a tall martial arts champion, the king of tough-guy cool. Secretly, he loved baking cakes, collecting "pink sparkly things" and knitting clothes for his stuffed animals. To the tooth-sucking horror of Japan's corporate elders, the show struck a powerful chord with the generation they spawned.
But he does like cooking and cycling, and platonic friendships. Emotional entanglements are too complicated," he says.
Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? | World news | The Guardian
Ironically, the salaryman system that produced such segregated marital roles — wives inside the home, husbands at work for 20 hours a day — also created an ideal environment for solo living.
Japan's cities are full of conveniences made for one, from stand-up noodle bars to capsule hotels to the ubiquitous konbini convenience storeswith their shelves of individually wrapped rice balls and disposable underwear.
And Japan's cities are extraordinarily crime-free. Some experts believe the flight from marriage is not merely a rejection of outdated norms and gender roles. It could be a long-term state of affairs.
Firebombing of Tokyo - HISTORY
For some guys it really gets to their heads and they start bragging about it like crazy as part of the superstar syndrome.
Dating in Japan as a foreign woman: The complete opposite is the case for Western foreign women in Japan. As a result it is extremely tough to find a date as a foreign woman here in Japan. Some of us will go through a hard time here in Japan.
It might be a different story in bigger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka with a more international community, but in smaller cities and in the countryside with more traditional ideals it can be very difficult for foreign women.
I personally know a few couples where either the man or the woman is foreign and I noticed quite a lot of differences in the kind of relationship they have.
Please note that the following is based on my personal experience and that not everybody out there is like that. Foreign man, Japanese woman: In relationships where the man is foreign I noticed that they mostly speak his native language. One big problem seems to be the fact that in Japan the man earns the money, but the woman takes care of it! The man only gets a small allowance every week or month and needs to ask his wife for permission if he wants to spend any more of his own hard-earned money!
Foreign guys often seem to struggle with this system. I noticed that those kind of relationships seem to work out better if they live in his home country and not in Japan. Foreign woman, Japanese man: She has studied Japanese properly or puts in a lot of effort to improve her Japanese ability even if the Japanese man can speak her native tongue.
The man seems to accept that she wants to keep working even after marriage. All the couples I know of have a relatively harmonic relationship. Of course, there are enough reasons for disputes, but all in all they seem to manage better than couples where the man is foreign.