A Gaijin Guys’ Notebook
The second part of a series exploring cross-cultural romantic relationships
Hi, my name is Rupert, just off the boat and in Fukuoka. I’ve done a lot of traveling in my time, but Japan is unlike anywhere I’ve been before. I had fun reading last month’s Fukuoka Now, particularly the feature on gaijin guys and Japanese girls. This month, I wanted to investigate this subject from a foreign chap’s perspective…
Japan is perhaps the last advanced country in the world where seeing a foreigner is still somewhat of a novelty. America, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries all have a very diverse mix of races with families immigrating from all over the world to settle on their shores. This global migration leaves its mark – in England, Indian curry spices the nation’s dinners and Bangladeshi slang peppers the youth’s vocabulary. African American artists sit proudly atop the North American music charts, and in Australia, a remarkable 24% of Aussies were born elsewhere.
Japan, however, remains firmly Japanese in both culture and population make-up. The CIA’s factbook on Japan reports that the number of immigrants per 1000 people in Japan is rounded up to zero; non-Japanese comprise just 1% of the population. Japan’s favorite food is sushi and television shows are, shall we say, uniquely Japanese.
Women are hard to understand at the best of times. Japanese women, being both female and Japanese, pose somewhat of a double conundrum.
Like any good foreigner, I decided the first place to look for information on these strange creatures would be a dimly lit and ear-splittingly loud bar. I donned my shiniest shoes and grabbed my Japanese phrasebook and headed for the nearest izakaya…
Later that night…
As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could make out a collection of strangely shaped bodies. They were tall, with unusually large olfactory receptors, and had hair of many different colors. Then I realized-they were foreigners like me! I just had time to make a quick sketch and jot down their words of wisdom…
Listen here, boy. If there’s one thing I know about Japanese women, it’s that they never complain. They are nice and quiet and you can act however you like around them!
Hmph. I’m an English teacher, and if I had a yen for every time I heard one of my female students complaining about her partner, my days of shopping at the hyaku yen shop would be over! Japanese women complain. It’s just a question of who they complain to…
You’re new to Fukuoka, right? Don’t worry, you’ll have a girlfriend in no time. It’s easy to pick up Japanese girls! In fact, picking them up is the easy part. It’s getting rid of them that’s difficult!
Well, I’ve been here for months and I haven’t even got close enough to a Japanese girl to be told I have bad breath. You know they have a word for some foreigners, Back Home Loser? I tell you, they are cottoning on to us. Being foreign no longer guarantees you that Japanese girls fling themselves at your feet…
During the course of the conversation, I also discovered the following. Apparently…
Japanese women can’t hold their drink!
They prefer gaijin guys to Japanese guys
Japanese women have been brainwashed by Hollywood and all it stands for
Japanese women will always tell you that you look like a movie star – usually Mr. Bean as opposed to Brad Pitt
Japanese women personally finance Luis Vuitton’s monthly yacht trips to St. Tropez. (This is not true of course; it is their boyfriends who do)
The Good, the Bad, and the Undecided
A little later in the night, I spotted this guy swinging from the rafters. He introduced himself as Orlando Pitt-Caprio and told me that I’d find his information invaluable…
Hi! I’m Orlando Pitt-Caprio but the ladies call me ‘Oh!’. Ooh yeah! If you really want to understand Japanese women, you gotta know the pros and cons. Listen and learn, brother…
They look young for their age
They really know how to pamper us guys
Japanese girls are very feminine. (Always a bonus in a woman)
Japanese girls love to dress up nice!
They love a good cuddle
When you treat a Japanese woman well, the favor is always reciprocated
They seem to suffer from fewer headaches than Western women
The Not so Good
They look young for their age. If in doubt, ask them who their favorite pokemon is. If they have one, chances are they are either too young, or just weird. Either way you may politely excuse yourself at this point.
They can be a very materialistic bunch. I can’t even take a girl to the video shop without waiting for her to apply seventeen tons of make-up and shoehorn herself into a pair of jeans tight enough to cut off the circulation to her feet.
Damn do they like to complain about their boyfriends to anyone who’ll listen-but who bought them their designer bags and perfumes?
No matter how many times I prod them in the ribs during episodes of Family Guy/The Simpsons/Monty Python, they’ll always laugh in the wrong bits (if they laugh at all)
Orlando’s Sure-fire Pick-up Lines
Watashino naha Bondo, Je-muzu Bondo
My name is Bond, James Bond
Kondo, Afuro ni shiyouto omoundakedo Dou omou?
I’m thinking about having my hair Afro… What do you think?
Boku ha marude Richa-do Gia no kibun sa.. Datte Puriti Uman no yoko ni tatterundakara (Ama-i)
I must be Richard Gere, because I am sitting next to a Pretty Woman!
Sojiki kaitai kara tsuitekite kurenaika? Boku ha mise ga yoku wakaranainda.
I want to buy a vacuum cleaner. Do you mind coming shopping with me? I have no idea where to go or which one to buy…
…but can it be trusted?
I decided O’s advice was a bit like a shot of tequila – a little strong for my liking and to be taken with a pinch of salt. There was more I wanted to know… I needed to talk to the veterans, the battle-scarred survivors of the international dating scene. Aha! In that dark corner… They called me over…
Humor! It doesn’t translate into Japanese. Don’t even try it, especially if you are sarcastic. They won’t get it! I had ex-girlfriends in tears with the most harmless of off-the-cuff comments. Take my advice, if you have to explain the joke, it wasn’t worth making.
Be careful with the steps you take with your girlfriend. Back home, I would introduce girls to my parents after a couple of dates if they hadn’t run off screaming by then. To a Japanese girl, that’s a big deal. Don’t plan to introduce them to your parents unless you are serious, because that’s the way they see it. And if they introduce you to their parents, you better be in for the long haul!
When you first get to Japan, and if you get a girlfriend, they help you out. They’ll order things for you in restaurants, they’ll talk to the bank for you and they’ll shout at the pizza man for putting squid ink in your pizza. But trust me, if you don’t start learning the lingo and taking care of things yourself, it’s going to get old in a hurry. They want a man they can rely on who can take care of them, not the other way around!
If you get a Japanese girlfriend and you are serious, make sure she understands that you are someone from a whole different country with your own history, family, friends… Make sure she knows that you don’t exist in isolation out here. I’ve had girlfriends who found it difficult to handle it when I introduced them to friends or family back home, and wanted to spend time with them occasionally instead of her
If you are going to get married or get serious, make sure you fully experience each other’s home country first. Take her back to your country and show her around. If she stops talking to you when you’ve introduced her to Cousin Marv and his Worm Farm, maybe she wasn’t the one for you
As they spoke, I realized I would need to find out for myself how the mind of the Japanese woman worked. I had learnt much, but I realised it was up to me now. I thanked them for their advice and bid them farewell…