My Experience Dating in Japan — The White Guy Perspective

Alex Steullet
10 min readJun 9, 2020

A few weeks ago, my good friend and I decided to do a joint writing project about Japanese culture and society. After all, such a complex, deep and stratified social framework can’t be understood from any single vantage point — especially not that of white guy who’s only been here a few years.

The first topic we agreed to write about is dating. Specifically, dating Japanese people in Japan. Kayo wrote her piece from the perspective of an outgoing, independent, and overall awesome Japanese lady. Be sure to check it out here. As for my piece, well, I did my best to convey what navigating the Japanese dating scene is like for your average white dude. Enjoy!

Caveat Emptor

I’ve been in Japan for about four years now. I’ve been single about half that time, and I’ve been on my fair share of dates. To give a ballpark figure, let’s say more than five, but less than a million.

As a 30-something, not particularly outgoing, average-looking white male, the most effective way for me to meet people has been dating apps. Since I can read and write in Japanese, I prefer Japanese apps to, for example, Tinder, although I’ve used both. There have also been a few people I met organically in real life, but they were few and far between.

Let me preface this piece by saying that as I’m writing these lines, I’m still single, and have been since a bit before the coronavirus (which has proven to be a very potent date killer). I’m not the least bit good at dating, although I’d like to think I’m slowly getting better.

With all of that in mind, let’s get into it. Here’s what I learned about dating in Japan.

A limited range of partners

Not being Japanese, the first thing you should know is who we are limits our options. There are a fair amount of women who don’t feel comfortable dating foreigners. Few will say it outright (although trust me, some will), but when you think about what dating a foreigner entails, you’ll quickly see that a majority of Japanese women would rather not go through the trouble.

Japan is an insular society with a heavy cultural emphasis on conformity. I’ve honestly found Tokyo to be open and welcoming to…

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Alex Steullet

Writing to get better. Tokyo-based polyglot with a degree in human rights. Travel | Humor | Language | Society. Find me anywhere @alexstwrites.