With the majority of the foreigners on extended stays in Japan being male, and more Japanese women than men having a strong interest in languages and cultures other than their own, it’s natural that the most common international pairing for Japanese nationals is a Japanese woman and foreign man.
Of course, every society has its attractive and unattractive aspects, which Japanese women revealed by sharing both the things about their foreign boyfriends and husbands that thrilled them, as well as the less pleasant parts of the package deal of a romantic partner.
Given the relatively small foreign population in Japan, one could draw the conclusion that women with a beau from overseas first had to pass on romantic opportunities with their own countrymen. A poll by Japanese website Nico Video produced the following reasons why some Japanese women weren’t interested in Japanese men.
- No concept of chivalry – 48.3%
- Don’t express affection – 43%
- Don’t take initiative – 24.7%
- Don’t say nice things about their girlfriends in front of others – 17.6%
- Don’t have a good body – 14.5%
It wasn’t all bad news as far as Japanese men were concerned, though. There’s a lot to be said for the comfort and unspoken understanding that can come from a common background, as one woman explained.
“When I get married, I want to quit my job and be a housewife. I think women who have those kinds of domestic ambitions are better off with a Japanese guy, since that pattern’s been the norm for Japanese couples for so long.”
She wasn’t the only one to cite the advantages of home life with a Japanese husband.
“Japanese guys don’t have much to say about how to decorate the house, so most of the time the woman gets to make the decisions. The man usually picks up the tab for the interior decorating, too.”
Foreign men have a lot going against them, too, with the most obvious being the language barrier.
“I’m not a native English speaker like my boyfriend, and it’s frustrating when I can’t put the right nuance on what I’m trying to say.”
“If you forget to put the seat down one more time I will…murder you? Is ‘murder’ the right word? Is ‘slaughter’ better here?”
An international relationship can mean more bickering and extra time needed to settle your differences, as not starting from the same cultural footing means you often have to spend the beginning of a discussion just feeling each other out as to what you both think about the issue.
“My younger sister’s husband is South American, and they often squabble over cultural differences, and really have to make an effort to understand where the other is coming from.”
Even when you’re both willing to compromise, meeting in the middle is a complicated process when you’ve got the Pacific Ocean between you.
And things only get tougher if you and your spouse metamorphose into your stubborn, grumpy grandparents.
“As time goes by, my foreign husband and I argue more and more over food. When we were young, we were both happy to eat just about anything, but as we’ve gotten older our tastes have started reverting back to what we ate as kids. I think this is a big reason why some international marriages break down after many years.”
We feel compelled to point out that in most culinary traditions (Japan’s included), the foods that kids like shouldn’t present that much of a problem for full-grown adults to just make for themselves.
So with these strikes against them, how do foreign guys manage to snag a Japanese girl? For starters, in contrast to the above-mentioned hands-off approach to the home many Japanese men have, Japanese women are often appreciative of the way their foreign beaus and hubbies pitch in around the house.
“My Canadian husband says it’s only natural that he help with the housework.”
“I don’t know if he’s really diligent, or I’m just lazy, but I’m always impressed by how much my British husband does….When we have guests over for dinner, he vacuums, straightens up the house, and even puts out fresh flowers.”
But by far the most common compliment Japanese women paid to their foreign guys was how impressed they were by their romantic streak. In a culture where direct shows of passion are few and far between for many couples, this often crops up at surprising times.
“My boyfriend is from America, and whenever we talk on the phone, he says ‘I love you’ before he hangs up. It always makes me blush.’”
European men also lived up to their reputation of finding poetic ways to express their love, such as the Spanish boyfriend of a Japanese woman who begins every email he sends her with, “To the most beautiful woman in the world.”
And as expected, French men can be counted on to handle the situation with sophistication and flair.
“On my days off, my French boyfriend makes breakfast for me, and wakes me up with a kiss, saying ‘I couldn’t wait to see myself in those beautiful eyes of yours.’”
Of course, at the end of the day (or the beginning of the night, if it’s still too early in the relationship to be sleeping over), the important thing to remember is that you’re dating a person, not their nationality. The best course is to try to adopt all of the good points above, Japanese or foreign, and make sure you don’t let any of the bad ones get out of hand. After all, no one outside of visa fraudsters chooses who to go out with by looking at their passport.
Sources: Naver Matome, Nico Video
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