The issue of who should pay on a date can be a tricky one. Do you split it evenly down the middle? Should the one who initiated the date be the one to pay? Should the guy man always pay, no matter what?
Usually, it seems pretty fair for a would-be couple to split the bill equally, but in Japan, where gender roles are still quite different to those in the west, some men can feel seriously embarrassed if his date offers to pay her half of the bill, since the man may interpret her offer a sign that – gasp – she thinks he doesn’t earn that much. Some guys may even feel annoyed if a woman openly offers to split the bill or waves her cash around, because this could potentially make the guy feel like he’s “losing face” in front of others around them.
Splitting it down the middle does seem quite common in Japan, however, especially among younger couples like university students who aren’t exactly rolling in money. Known as “warikan“, generally speaking the accepted date etiquette is for the woman to ask the man what her “share” of the bill would be. It’s then up to the guy to either tell her that it’s on him or to calculate her half of the bill. Sometimes, to be chivalrous, guys will ask the girl for slightly less than she actually owes. That way, the girl gets to contribute, but the guy still gets to feel like he’s treating her.
If any of this rankles, it’s important to remember that Japanese society isn’t Western society. In Japan, it’s stll considered quire normal for women to quit their jobs after they marry and have children, living off their husband’s salary. Being too independent, especially financially, is a good way to make Japanese guys feel emasculated.
A friend of mine once told me a story about a date she had with a Japanese man while she was an exchange student in Tokyo. The guy was a fairly affluent businessman, and she was barely squeaking by teaching English in cafes in between classes. Keen to impress, the guy took her to a fancy restaurant and really went all out by ordering a huge variety of dishes and expensive wine. Being a westerner, she’d been raised to pay her own way and it was a point of pride for her to always go halves on dates, so by the time the bill came, she was furious and ended up blowing most of her monthly food budget on her half of the ludicrously overpriced meal.
The guy, meanwhile, was left totally deflated because her insistence on paying her share basically nullified his attempt to spoil her with such a fancy dinner. As a result of the date, my friend refused to consider seeing the guy again because she assumed that continuing to date him would bankrupt her! This story, while extreme, is a pretty good example of culture clash, especially when it comes to finances.
Even among Japanese couples, the whole issue of who should pay on a date is something of a minefield, fraught with endless potential for embarrassment. A self-help book recently published in Japan states that men should provide financial benefits to a woman in exchange for her time and beauty. It equates a man only paying his own half on a date with a woman turning up for a date without any makeup on.
Here’s what some of Japan’s netizens had to say on THAT subject:
“If men understood how much time and money women have to spend on looking beautiful, they would realise that the onus is on them to pay for the privilege of the woman’s time and company.”
“Good plan. I only have to pay half and I get to know for sure that she’s not a troll without her makeup on. Win-win.”
“I only ever pay half on dates, but if a woman showed up for a date with me without any makeup on I’d just walk off and leave her right there.”
“Girls should show up in guys’ clothes if a guy never pays for her. See how that goes down!”
“It’s embarrassing for me not to pay the full total on a date. Don’t you guys have any pride?”
“Some girls embarrass me by thanking me way too much if I pay. It’s not necessary and feels awkward. And some girls will hold back and not really enjoy the food that much if they’re worrying about you paying. As long as a girl doesn’t take it for granted and act like you owe her for her time, it’s okay.”
“I used to be like, why should I pay? But these days I want to pay. It’s a point of pride.”
“Sometimes it’s cute when a girl shyly pulls out her wallet on a date. But that can get embarrassing. Personally I think it’s classy if a woman excuses herself to the restroom so you can pay the bill while she’s not there. Then you can feel like the man, without any awkwardness.”
“To solve this problem, guys should pay half, and also show up for the date wearing a full face of makeup.”
“I’m happy to pay but not for girls who have an attitude about it.”
“I’d gladly pay for a girl… if I could ever get a date, that is!”
Ladies, if you find yourself on a date in Japan, it might be better to not make too much of a song and dance about it when paying your way. And if he treats you, make sure to remember to thank him with a “gochisosama deshita!” afterwards! As for you men, if you’re taking a Japanese lady on a date, you might want to be make sure you’ve got plenty of yen in your wallet before you go!
Who do you think should pay on a date?
Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- “I think I love you…”: Romantic confessions from around the world -- “Business Nail” – the latest trend among young Japanese businessmen looking to get ahead -- Nine reasons why Japanese men hesitate to say “I love you”© Japan Today