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Five things I like about expat guys

40 Comments

Eccentric, zombie-loving, nerdy: a few things I ♥ about expat dudes in Japan.

1) They’re weird.

Expat guys have a lot of the qualities I look for: complicated, geeky, and slightly dark. They tend to be way into computers, sci-fi, and play first-person Zombie shooter games way more than they’ll admit. But they’re also here for a reason. Sure, it might be a JP culture-addict thing, but chances are they might have been a little socially awkward back home and came here to experience something more fun than furtive glances of disdain from random blind dates.

2) They’re handy translators.

Not being able to speak Japanese yet, I LOVE this. It’s so comforting to be able to roll into a restaurant and try something new without mystery. Language proficiency is really the keys to the castle here, and if he speaks Japanese, it’s a major dating bonus.

3) They’re not all up in your face.

Unless they’re the über-creepy hermit type, these guys usually have a lot on their plates. Teaching, music, art, starting their own businesses: expat guys tend to keep a full schedule and aren’t going to be texting you every little thought in their heads thirty times a second. And if you’re a solo female here, chances are you’re the independent type who can smell needy from fifty paces.

4) They’re adventurous.

I realize this one sounds like every OK Cupid profile in existence, but if we’re here it means we all love to travel off the paved road of homogeneous tourism. Want to go eat bizarre in Nowheresville, Malaysia? These guys are down. They’ll even help plan the trip.

5) They dig us, despite being surrounded by gorgeous local babes.

Especially the ones that have been here a while and are looking to chat about old movies or pop culture references that local girls might not get. It’s fun to see a guy’s eyes light up when you mention David Lynch or punk rock (when punk rock was really punk rock… crap I’m getting old). Local girls are foxy, no question, but when an X-man wants to have a deep, meaningless conversation, gaijin girls hold the number one slot.

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40 Comments
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It’s fun to see a guy’s eyes light up when you mention David Lynch or punk rock (when punk rock was really punk rock… crap I’m getting old).

I assume you are talking about the Ramones and the Pistols, and if so, we should meet immediately.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

At first I started reading and wondered what the article was about. Now, I've finished the article and wondering why they published it.

17 ( +25 / -7 )

Ha! Among others, yes. I'm from California so I was into the Southern California punk scene as well. There has to be a Tokyo equivalent somewhere.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It's just a thought piece. Relax. Wow.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Yeah there are equivalents, but we're all old and hard of hearing now...Waves of feedback at the Cuckoo's Nest, Al's Bar, Linda's Doll Hut, Anti-Club, and Club Lingerie still echo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I really like this article.

It's funny, well-written and also it's very nice of Cynthia to take a positive spin on us expat-guys.

As a fully paid-up "Charisma Man" I've often felt that "Western Woman" despises me and had kind of given up even trying to have any contact with non-Japanese females.

Cynthia's article has inspired me to at least try to speak to western woman again.

But, damn, I don't know if I can...

"What is your hobby?" probably won't cut it as a satisfying conversation...

22 ( +22 / -0 )

True- It's getting embarrassing. I was invited to a show a few weeks ago that started at midnight. Unless I rolled in pajamas and was willing to die the next day, there was no pulling that off. Sigh forever.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

wow...those are some powerful rose tinted glasses

12 ( +14 / -2 )

I miss American girls. Period. My best friends back home were both female and I really do miss their sense of humor, going shopping, chatting etc...

As you can gather I was not the typical US guy. I don't care about football or other sports. I was the artist/office type playing music in an alternative band and working hard in a big company at the same time.

Sadly here I don't have any foreign female friends. To be honest I think alternative girls here are as rare as drunk salaryman free train cars on a Friday night. And if they do exist, my circle sadly does not cross theirs. I typically meet the just passing through overly yuppie corporate types who think art is an investment and not something to appreciate. These ladies I can live without.

I would love to meet a great female friend from somewhere other than here who is cool being just friends with a married couple and sharing in the occasional old movie party or shopping excursion.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Is this specific to expat guys in Japan or expat guys around the world?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Cynthia Popper: I don't live in Tokyo anymore, but I grew up there an American expat, and whenever I'm back, I pretty much fall into gone-native mode all over again. Be interesting to learn if you / others can discern a difference b/n old-timer expats and relative newbies - and what that is.

@iraira: Jeez, all those old venue names... Al's Bar; gone but not forgotten. At least The Ukranian Cultural Center and Dancing Waters are still there - I hear, and still booking shows. Wonder if they're still as wonderfully seedy as back in the day...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sadly here I don't have any foreign female friends. To be honest I think alternative girls here are as rare as drunk salaryman free train cars on a Friday night.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I read this article and thought, where are these girls?! Been here for years and have met maybe 1 or 2 ex-pat girls like this. Guess I need to get out more.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

After so many years in Japan I can honestly say that women from my own country are starting to look a lot more exotic than local girls. Not that I have any complains.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

crap I’m getting old

Welcome to the club Cynthia, and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

they might have been a little socially awkward back home

Check, but I'm still socially awkward here, so my predicament hasn't really changed.

and if he speaks Japanese, it’s a major dating bonus

Nice. This is the exact opposite of what J-girls are after. They want their gaijins English only. : )

these guys usually have a lot on their plates

I never really thought about it, but most expats I know do seem to be doing 3 different jobs at one. Part-time teacher at 3 different schools on the weekdays, bartender at night, fake priest on the weekends...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I must be hanging out in the wrong places, but I only know two kinds of western male in Japan:

The bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newbies (who have no interest in me).

The bitter alcoholic divorcees (who are of no interest to me).

The smart ones get out between 1 and 2, so I never get to meet them.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Numbers 1-5 describe me pretty well(^_^)/

Cynthia?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nice to see an article that doesn't deride western men as 'losers' who 'can't make it in the real world'.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The difference between expats and gaijin:

Expats have hot and cold running water, gaijin have cold water and freezing ass cold water, ha ha!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

LiveinTokyo ( second post ) - Har!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Too bad Cynthia wasn't here when Charisma Man was around, not that he would have been interested in comforting her!!! Most gaijin women seem to last around 1yr to 18 months and usually say sayonara after disastrous attempted conjugations with local men or loneliness kicks in.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Too bad Cynthia wasn't here when Charisma Man was around,

He's still here!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

So... all expat men in Japan are like she thinks they are? Sounds like she's after a mid to late forties (going by the real punk references) adrenalin junkie with a love of PC and console games... and a decent job. Good luck with that dearie.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ash is right. I'm a full-on optimist. As part of the micron demographic that is white expat female, I think I have to be to be happy here. The alternative-- becoming the stereotypically distainful woman that "despises" expat men sounds like a total drag.

The guy friends and prospective suitors I've met have been well-traveled, interesting, and not the douchey fanboys- though I've seen them here too. No question these broad strokes exist because they're in part true, but that was kind of the point of my little contrarian scribble. They're just broad strokes. That's exactly why Charisma Man is funny. I wanted to say something that hadn't been said that I believe is 100% true- that's all. I don't blame you if you disagree. I can only speak from my own experience.

It really is a numbers thing. There are very few of us (Western women), so of course guys are going to date/marry Japanese women- they're everywhere. And course, given the numbers, I'm not going to have a deluge of hot-nerd-man-action kicking down my door every four seconds. But there are definitely cool men here... JP guys too. I guess keeping an open mind and not shooting hater vibes is working?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

No. I realize not all men are not like what I've described.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That was painful.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

You love it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

LOL. Interesting "take" in the expat in Japan. Definitely not the usual expat diatribe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

...when you mention David Lynch or punk rock (when punk rock was really punk rock… crap I’m getting old)

Oh, you kids.... I was a senior in high school in the Detroit area when Iggy and the Stooges, MC5, The Frost and a few other hard-core rock groups were, as it was said in days of yore, "making the scene." By the time the Pistols and Ramones came around, it all seemed sort of old hat.

I really liked the article, and praise the writer for having such a level-headed and healthy attitude about living in Japan. Wish I could have been that "old" when I was a younger man.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Nice to see an article that doesn't deride western men as 'losers' who 'can't make it in the real world'.

That's because western men is her target audience, and she wants as many positive responses as possible.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Xeno:

Be interesting to learn if you / others can discern a difference b/n old-timer expats and relative newbies - and what that is.

Yeah I can discern a difference. No question. :)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A gaijin girl......I'm getting misty eyed.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey Cynthia, I meet your criteria :) Get on down to Kansai.....Gabba gabba hey !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To say with the authors words: "way" to put a stereotype into a specific drawer!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You have something here. it took guts to write this with the risk of getting a lot of criticism... Keep on writing!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Real criticism is a good thing- as a writer I always learn something from it. And people have the right not to like what I write. Just saying something sucks "just because" is kind of pointless. But very cool of you to say bruin... thanks. :)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Cynthia, I am totally with you on that. :) After twenty years in Japan, I finally managed to find my nerd man, and he is awesome. He's into punk rock, craft beer, Portal, zombie movies, and gets way too into his hobbies sometimes, LOL. I have to say, most of the non-Japanese guys I meet are pretty cool guys, and I rarely if ever meet the Charisma man stereotype, and even more rarely do I meet the type of guy who worships Japanese girls and makes a point of saying degrading things about western women. They exist, but it's easy enough to stay away from them since there are also many cool guys here. Though I have to say, my Japanese is usually much better than theirs! hahaha....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Right? I knew I wasn't the only one. Your guy sounds awesome, BTW. You're officially my hero. :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hi Cynthia! Interesting piece- I love reading about what other foreign girls write about. You do make some good points, I did date a few really great foreign guys here in Japan, and despite what many foreign girls say, they are into us. Many of them play the field and it makes some foreign girls bitter, but to them I say, play the field too!! Japanese men are amazing as well!! They've taken me on the best dates ever, and they're so caring. My first three years in Japan I only dated foreign men, as I was too shy to approach Japanese guys, despite being so attracted to many of them. I am now with a Japanese boyfriend- I think it's nice to be with a local, he's introducing me to so many aspects of Japanese culture, but he's also lived abroad for several years and we have tons in common (music, movies, and values) so it's the perfect balance of what I was seeking. Kudos on this piece though, I admire you for writing about this delicate topic!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thank you Vivian... sounds like you have a great thing going. There are about billion reasons to date Japanese guys, and there are a lot of good JP guys out there... so there's really no need to be dateless unless that's really what you want. Coming here, I had just kept hearing a lot of negative stuff about expat guys and I haven't found it to be entirely true. Stereotypes are funny because they are in part true, but they aren't absolute. It's good to remember that I think.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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