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Dating Differences Between America and Japan

In Japan, it's not strange if a woman asks a man out but in America, it seems that women tend to wait for men to ask them out.

By 3 min read 109

When I first moved America to attend college, I was nervous about starting a life in a new country because I wasn’t sure how quickly I would be able to adapt to the new culture. Even though it had been my dream to live in America, I was very excited but nervous at the same time.

Growing up in Japan my parents were really strict and so I didn’t get an opportunity to start going on dates until after I graduated from high school. I did have a Japanese boyfriend but I ended things with him to go to school in California.

Unlike Japan, California is a true melting pot of cultures but since I had so little dating experience back home, I was nervous about getting into the dating scene in America. Mostly because I had no idea how the American dating culture worked.

I was young and naïve so it was a little scary in the beginning and I soon discovered the dating process in America is quite different from the one in Japan. In this article, I want to talk about a few major differences I saw between Japanese and American dating cultures.

Love Confession

Among Japanese teenagers the most basic way of starting to date someone is by giving them a “kokuhaku” or love confession. This sounds a bit creepy but it’s not so much telling someone you love them but rather the Japanese way of letting them know you like them and asking them out.

One thing that is very different in Japan is that it is not uncommon for a woman to ask a man out. I have to confess that I had a crush on a boy in junior high and my friends forced me to do the kokuhaku ritual. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out as the boy wasn’t interested in me. If you confess and she/he says yes, you two could be considered a couple.

Valentine’s Day is especially popular for young women to do kokuhaku.

In America, it really depends on the person but I have never experienced this type of initiation. I find that dating is more casual and at times it’s hard to understand if we are dating or just hanging out. Something fellow GP writer, Grace Buchele Mineta mentioned in her podcast interview.

In Japan, women can confess their love so it’s not strange if we ask a man out but in America, it seems that women tend to wait for men to ask them out. This was a little strange to me because I wasn’t sure what to do if I was really into someone.

Another thing that I noticed was that American men tend to pay for dates but Japanese men usually don’t. I did the online dating many years ago and a couple of men say that it was getting too expensive for them to ask women out because even if you meet them just for a coffee, it quickly adds up.

This isn’t a problem for Japanese men who usually will arrange a date at a very cheap cafe and still expect me to pay my share!

Anyways, these are the things that I have learned from dating men in America and these are very uniquely different experiences. Do I prefer American or Japanese dating custom? Quite frankly I don’t think either of them is very effective.

The thing that I like about typical Japanese dating custom is that “kokuhaku” (confession) makes the start of relationships more simplified. I don’t like having to wonder if my date is interested in being in a relationship with me, and dating isn’t very fun because of the games involved in the process.

On the other hand I like that American men are more chivalrous than Japanese men and will do things like pay for dates and hold the door open for me.

What do you guys think? Has your dating experience in Japan been different than in your home country?

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  • Estelle says:

    I’m considering dating a Japanese man and was looking for some insight into culture. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  • MyEkubo says:

    I like this Japanese man, we’ve been talking like several months. He’s super busy business man. I think we know that we both have feeling for each other. The thing is, he cannot visit to me very often, since he has to travel a lot. (So, I can’t observe whether he has actual feeling or not). Life sucks! :'(
    So, I confuse. Should I just simply do my Kokuhaku? What’s the best and cutest way to confess him 😀 (p.s – he’s 10 yrs older than me, we chat everyday & talk sometimes due to his biz schedule)

  • Jay says:

    “I think men don’t have to pay for dates if man and woman make same amount of money. Women should pay too.
    Hold the doors open for girls? Well, I would say, do it by yourself.”

    I’m an American man and I agree with you, Yosuke. Actually, in America and the West in general we are increasingly calling these men “white knights”, “simps” and “maginas.” There are a growing number of men in America and elsewhere in the West that are similar to herbivore men in philosophy. I’m one of them. It is called MGTOW. Modern women can only lead all modern men of all nations to a single, logical conclusion.

    You know it, I know it, others know it…

  • Yosuke says:

    I’m a japanese man.
    ” I like that American men are more chivalrous than Japanese men and will do things like pay for dates and hold the door open for me.”
    I think men don’t have to pay for dates if man and woman make same amount of money. Women should pay too.
    Hold the doors open for girls? Well, I would say, do it by yourself.

  • sariahbro says:

    I’m in a new relationship with a Japanese guy, he’s super nice and very sweet but I’m not here to talk about my love life. RIGHT . I do admit that Japanese guys are intimidated by western girls. Most of them think that western girls don’t have any interest in Japanese guys so they don’t bother, which is sad I know. There is somethings I noticed that were different from the get go. like he talked about “leading” our relationship, which I had no idea was a thing but a quick google search told me that it means he takes lead of the relationship and in the end calls the shots. holding hands is ok. Although kissing for him is more like if no one is around and people cant see us. I have no problem with that at all haha 😉 . all guys are different, and just because they are from japan or some other country doesn’t mean you guys wont have common ground. IT WILL BE HARD. I wont lie it will be but it all worth it. Have a great day everyone hope this gave you something haha idk guys buy

  • SunShine McWane says:

    When I lived in Japan, Japanese guys were just Sooooooo not interested in western girls at all. They only like Japanese girls. Life was very lonely for me in Japan and my self esteem went down drastically cause Japanese men just only like Japanese girls. I don’t really understand this article because the few Japanese guys I did date would ALWAYS PAY NO MATTER HOW BIG THE BILL GOT. Maybe American men were just paying for her cause shes foriegn and they were trying to impress her? American guys have the idea “oh I’ll just invite her to my house, watch Netflix and see if I can get her to sleep with me”. In my experience, the guys in America do ask the girls out tho and hold the door open(which never happened in Japan). And the BIGGEST difference I saw just Japanese men dress really nice butt American ones just don’t care

  • Matt says:

    Wow…That’s quite a nasty comment Coco. Asking the author if she’s a “real” Japanese when she clearly says she moved to America for college, under her Japanese name it says she was born in Japan, and if you click on her profile it clearly states that she grew up in a small town in the Japanese countryside. You immediately realized that the author has a differing opinion and you recognize it as foreign, and thus, bad? You apparently see it as an intentional rumour started in order to bring down the image of Japanese men instead of a simple personal narative about ones individuals experiences.

    Do I agree with the author on everything? No, of course not, but I’m certainly not foolish enough to discount her own personal experiences.

    On top of the nastiness that is your comment it is astonishing that you did not even read the blog that is attached to the link you sent. I am in reference to the “Should Men or Women Pay for the Date in Japan?” blog where it clearly states at the very beggining…here you read it,

    (Before getting started, I’d like to point out again that all these examples could just be personal character traits, flaws, habits, beliefs, or senses of humor and that not all Japanese people act the same way. In fact, I found one to be quite rude and atypical. There are no generalizations because the people quoted in this article dated different people from different countries and they all have their own personalities. So, keep that in mind!

    So, don’t be upset if an example related to your nationality and it doesn’t match with the way you think or feel! I’m not taking a jab at your country, and everyone knows that every person in the world has different experiences. Let’s just have some fun with this and maybe learn something along the way.)

    If you continue to read the article THAT YOU POSTED, you will also come across stories in which younger Japanese men want to split the bill and as a result, their partners get upset. (Please read) If you continue to read you will also find two more stories of Japanese women, one whose boyfriend paid for everything and another one who did not. (READ THE POST)

    You say that, “By the way, American guys in Japan never pay for us!” NO! NO US! YOU! They never pay for you! Why do you keep acting like the voice of all Japanese women? You are not. Thank heavens you are not. American guys never pay for you? Why would they? You seem like you are not the most friendly of people!

    “It’s the real Japan. You guys should know.”…The irony being that you don’t even know the real Japan. You fail to grasp that everyone experiences the country differently, and thus, on a personal level, there are going to be many different people that have many different experiences that all make up the real Japan that you are talking about.

    Your “real” Japan, is not necissarily the actual Japan. You should know 🙂


    An American in Japan.


  • Anna Clarke says:

    Me and my boyfriend have been dating from a long time and i am so happy with him as he treats me like a princesses. I found him while online dating and i am really happy with him. its love that matter weather you pay for dating or not.

    • Yeah..so? says:

      You are happy he treats you like a princess…but you say paying matters not?

  • leonard says:

    Romeo G.— Great post! Makes you want to shower her with time and attention ,take her places,because you KNOW that she is interested and not playing games!

  • Eric says:

    Hello. I agree that there are great differences between Japanese and American ways of doing things. But I think the writer doesn’t quite understand the idea behind the American way. I’m an American living in Japan, and here there is a great importance placed on who you are and what you’re doing. In each situation, there is an unspoken understanding dictating how to act and how to proceed, and the Japanese people are very (compared to Americans) nervous about not acting properly in the given situation. In America, if you find yourself with a guy (or girl) – you’re only expected to sit back, relax, and enjoy your time with this person. If you get to the point that you’re really confused about the status of the “relationship,” (and Americans also experience this confusion) you’re expected to communicate. In America, the better you communicate with your partner, the better the relationship will go. I think the writer’s discomfort with the American way may stem from her Japanese cultural expection that there should be “one societally acceptable way to act here.”

  • James Paul says:

    Which is why I dont generally date American women. They either want a perfect gentleman or hate them and you never know until its too late… I will say this. When I was in Japan, the Japanese males I saw treating women very well were all taken…. just saying….

  • Johnny Snider says:

    Konnichiwa, My name is Johnny. I gained alot of insight from your article. I cannot wait to go to Japan. I am into the building of old style, rigid, choppers. Unlike all the fat, “bagger” Harley riders in the US, the Japanese chopper culture “gets” the whole vintage American chopper scene. Thats why I want to go, to the “Mooneyes” Show in Japan. Also, the food. Hell yes. The buildings and history, I cant wait. Just began learning Japanese. Anyway, I would love to meet an amazing woman from there, I just dont plan on giving up my citizenship. People have done worse, for love though. Your article was so awsome. I know alot more now. I thank you. Otsukaresama Deshita.

  • AJ says:

    I’m from the Midwest and my state is not officially part of the “Bible Belt”, but it is a conservative area. I grew up in the country and have lived in “the big city”. From my experience, American girls expected me to pay and to be asked out. I would be what you consider a “nice guy” and as the saying goes, “nice guys” finish last. In my hometown, pretty girls liked dating bad boys, and it didn’t matter how “nice” I was, I was not a top choice. Men that date lots of girls are “playas” and women who date lots of men are “whores”. Unfortunately, that idea was pretty prominent, not sure if that’s still the case in America. IMO, if you’re dating lots of people at the same time, man or woman, then you’re a walking STD to me. As far as marriage goes, once you get married, you never date other people. “Open marriages” don’t really exist and I’ve never truly understood that concept myself. Why get married in the first place?

    American girls are much more forward and direct, from my experience, and more physically active in terms of being sexually forward. It didn’t feel like I had to chase after them so much. That being said though, America women love playing hard to get.

    I’ve dated Japanese nationals in America and in Japan. My ex wife is Japanese and dating her in America, after she had lived in America for a few years, was different from the normal experience. After a few months of dating, she had written “I Love You” in Japanese on a sign in her bedroom, but I had no idea what it said at the time. I guess that was her “confession” so to speak. I told her first, verbally, then she told me. She was more Westernized though, so she was more receptive to the dating culture. I’d paid for dinners, but she’d pay for other stuff. We were both in college, so we were both broke for the most part, haha.

    The Japanese women I’ve dated in Japan feel obligated to pay more often than not. It’s quite a nice role reversal. I almost always try to pay when “officially” dating, b/c it’s the American way. No offense to Japanese women, but they seem to be much “easier” compared to American women; at least the ones I’ve dated. Japanese women that have dated other Western men tend to be more open and honest and Japanese women that have never dated a Westerner tend to be more reserved. More reserved in general life and in the bedroom. #Whammy!

    One super confusing thing though with Japanese women, in Japan, is that they are super nice to you. They will give your gifts, souvenirs, “obligation” chocolates, stand close to you, and talk to you, but have no romantic feelings towards you. If American women did that, single or married, you’re in like sin. Here, single and married women, will be super nice to you and have no romantic feelings behind their actions. They’re just being polite. It makes it hard to read women’s feelings. I’ve had women cook for me and they just did it so we could share a meal together, as friends. Every time a woman cooked for me in the USA (family aside), they were always interested in me, or we were dating.

    Women are just crazy complicated in general, I really don’t think I’ll ever truly understand them, lol.

  • Payton Pringle says:

    I think its simply adorable that a woman would send me a message confessing her interest. It’s very attractive a woman would take the leap to say so to me. I would be very flattered 😀

    • Yumitolesson says:

      yes definitely..in where I live, women tend to flirt but wait for men to approach..women should be able to take the initiative.. 🙂

  • idighawaii says:

    I am a SoCal native and have also lived in a Japan. My ‘dating’ experiences with Japanese girls between the ages of 25-45 have been very interesting. I have dated Japanese girls here in
    Los Angeles and dated many Japanese girls in Japan.

    On the surface all Japanese girls seem to be the same–polite, a little shy, stylish, and easy to get along with. But “below the surface” they are very complicated. One of the girls I ‘dated” from Tokyo taught me a lot and opened my eyes.

    She was very open and honest with me when we were “dating” that she dated other guys also. She said there are different boyfriends who fit the following categories: steady guy who she dates on a regular basis (maybe marriage material), an older guy (sugar daddy?) who treats her like a Queen and buys gifts, a sex friend guy with good body (just for hook ups), and maybe a foreign guy for status and to satisfy her curiosity.

    I never questioned other Japanese girls that I dated which category I was in, rather I just enjoyed their company and the experience. BTW, I always paid for the dates.

    • James Paul says:

      I have heard this as well but I really only dated one Japanese woman before, my ex wife, so I dont really know. I do like the fact that Japanese women let you know how they feel and usually dont play stupid games….

    • Yumitolesson says:

      that’s very interesting..you definitely had an interesting girlfriend. I think we are definitely more complicated underneath..

  • Yumitolesson says:

    Hi Mieko, I was talking about the beginning of dating..of course american guys tend to offer to pay for drinks and even food on the first day nowadays as it seems to be the norm..otherwise you can be considered a non-gentleman and many women would not feel comfortable seeing you again for the next date,,but once they enter into a relationship, things are much more equal here. I used to pay most of our expenses for my boyfriend (in the past) and we cover equally and these days he picks up much more as things are better. 😉

    • Mieko says:

      I definitely think payment should be shared the longer the relationship goes on as well 🙂 that way neither one feels like they are being taken advantage of. But actually my experience with American guys asking me to pay (at least here in Hawaii) was often not too far into the relationship. As in, we were still in the dating phase and not officially boyfriend and girlfriend yet. But also, they ended up being not good guys…. Lol so I guess that is why.

  • Samuel Coco says:

    From the sounds of it, Japanese people have a saner policy when it comes to financing dates. I’ve never understood the idea that the man should pay for everything on the first dates. It’s the 21st Century! Equality is a two-way street people. Ladies, being “Independent” gives you greater freedom, rightly so, but also more responsibility i.e. it means you can pay for some shit XD.

    • DenisCh says:

      Hi Samuel, I agree with you on the principle, sex equality should apply to more than a few aspects of life. However, first, statistics show that on average, for a same job, men earn more than women (I can only speak with certainty for France where I’m from but I assume this salary gap is also true in many other countries). So, this custom that requires guys to pay when on dates is a way to offset this injustice, isn’t it? From the top of my head, there is something like a 20% difference between what men and women who do the same type of jobs make on average in France.
      Second, I don’t think we can easily declare once and for all that social expectations are over for the sake of sex equality. When dating girls in JP, I was not actually aware that men in JP were not expected to pay for dates. Seeing the Japanese society as a pretty conservative one, I took for granted (mea culpa on this one) that I was expected to pay, and never really challenged this idea. The reason is, and I am finally coming to my second point, that social expectations such as “paying for a bill on a date will show that I’m financially reliable” or that “I am a gentleman” are ingrained in us, or in me at least. Therefore as a result, I’ve always felt that not paying the bill would send a very wrong message about me to my possible future life partner.

    • Maggie Flos says:

      Honestly, I do like being spoiled once in a while by a guy on a date, but I appreciate it and don’t take it as the norm anymore like most/ a lot of women do. You are right, women expect to be treated the same as men on many levels and yet stick to the traditional value when it suits them. I usually go by alternating invitation, so if the guy paid on the first date I’ll pay on the second unless we split it from the get go.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      I agree. American culture still values traditional values held by “gentlemen”..they open car doors, doors, pay for stuff (at least in the beginning of relationship)..but we have to be careful as jackasses do it trying to impress women so they get what they want. I’ve witnessed these men often and they come in all ages. 🙁 I believe in equality but I still hold a traditional value and would like to be spoiled by men and because I am used to the system here, I wouldn’t feel comfortable when men don’t pay my coffee on our first “date”.

  • Douglas John says:


    Interesting article… Its just scratching the surface of course, but how can one accurately summarize the dating culture of two vast and diverse cultures… NY, my home, is vastly different from Texas or Kentucky or Cali… and if you look at the people and their dating practices in Japan I’m sure its quite different from say Ashiya or Umeda to Namba (I am living in Kansai) . What about guys perceptions of dating girls from both countries, I have that experience and its interesting to say the least!

    • Yumitolesson says:

      yes I would love to hear about what’s dating scene like in NY. Los Angeles was very interesting, rather crazy…not so in a good way. It seems a lot of games are involved but men that I know and they are originally from midwest or east coast..they are definitely different from So Cal native guys. “All good looking guys in Southern California are jerks.” my American friend said. 🙂

  • Mayu S says:

    I’m just so sick of people always asking me “the difference between Japan and ‘the West'” in terms of “gender roles” on Valentine’s Day during this time of the year…I’d like to think it’s not about the culture but the individuals. Gentlemen and nice women will give you some nice presents on Valentine’s Day, while assholes and bitches don’t. How can this be so complicated..

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Yes It is very complicated and unfortunately cultures do not play a huge role and justify certain things we do. Women give chocolate to men on Valentine’s day in Japan and men take women out for nice dinner on valentine’s day (usually) in the US.

  • Mirai Hayashi says:

    I think your analysis on dating culture in Japan and the US is
    overgeneralized and overly simplified based only on your lack of
    experience within the dating scene.

    First of all, this whole
    “kokuhaku” thing is old school. In Japan, its pretty much the same as
    the US. A guy and a girl could just “hang out” or “date” and have it
    develop into a relationship, without the whole ceremonial or ritualistic
    “kokuhaku” thing ever happening. It really depends on the couple and
    the progression of their relationship. Likewise in the States, the
    relationship can start as a friendship could quickly or slowly progress
    in to relationship. (perhaps this is why some relationships just fade
    away: one or both individuals wait for the kokuhaku to happen, and it
    never does) It’s not a Japan vs. American cultural thing as you
    suggest, but more of the dynamics of the relationship and personalities
    of the individuals involved.

    As far as “who pays for the date”,
    this again is not a cultural thing, but more about the relationship
    dynamics and the individuals involved. I have been on many dates in
    both countries where either I have paid, or we split the bill (hence the
    term “going Dutch”), or my date paid. In my experience, whether I paid
    or not really depended on my personal finances, whether or not I liked
    the person I was dating, our relationship status (just friends or really
    dating), or simply who asked whom out. Being somewhat old fashioned, I
    usually preferred picking up the tab regardless of the above mentioned
    circumstances, but there have been instances when my date picked up the
    tab instead, and it had nothing to do with whether my date was Japanese
    or American, or which country I was in.

    Finally, if you plan on
    dating a Japanese person and expecting a “kokuhaku”, I must tell you
    that you may be in for a long wait. Again, this kind only happens in
    dramas or on school grounds nowadays. And if you’re the one who does
    the kokuhaku, you my scare your date away if you read too much or too
    little into you relationship. You really need to learn that dating is
    not that simple anymore. Its not a “black and white”, “yes and no”
    world anymore and people are more thoughtful in choosing whom they date.
    Just my 2 yen.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      But I must disagree that dating isn’t part of traditional Japanese culture. So it seems to me that the start of relationship is much more well defined in Japan. In America, dating multiple people isn’t a crime but a couple usually makes a commitment and decide whether they are in a relationship or not..regardless of physical relationships, they could just be “dating” without commitment. In Japan, “tsukiau” usually means that you are in a relationship with one girl but American culture (generally) seems to frown upon cheating much more harshly than Japanese. Because you could just be “dating” without telling your partner that you are exclusively seeing her. I might not have articulated that in details in my article but there are significant differences between Japanese and American dating culture..especially among teenagers and young people (in 20s).

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Unfortunately I have very limited dating experiences back home as I moved to California right after high school. The article was written based on the “generalized” analysis after hearing from my sisters and friends back home and of course after my experiences. Also, these things don’t apply to older generations (30 and over) as young people (teenagers and early 20s) seem to do this but after living in California for over ten years, I must say that “splitting bills” especially in the beginning of dates in this city is a huge No no. Men do have to pick up checks here. I am not shallow but I will not see them again if men don’t pay for my coffee on my first “meeting” or “date” as many people meet online nowadays. My Japanese friends and sisters told me that wasn’t always the case and men won’t often pay for teas or coffees! I do not like to be shallow but after getting used to the new dating culture, I wouldn’t be comfortable with that. 🙂

  • Aj Shannon says:

    From what I have heard men are shy in Japan and often not they dont ask girls out “officially” and will instead just be around often whilst throwing out very subtle hints. I’ve heard this from many Japanese international students. BUT I have also heard that women asking the guy out isn’t happening as often anymore as well because many women are choosing jobs and careers over a family first. Job then family instead of just family.

    I am an american guy, with a bit of Japanese blood but I am really just american. I believe in a strict code of chivalry. Which in todays society could be just “dont cheat on her, open doors and love her”. (though for me its more)

    For some reason those things are hard to come by in an american relationship until either late college or after college. Many college kids tend to act like they are in highschool still with their fraternities and sororities and still date like they’re in high school. So as far as the gentlemen rule goes. Its very rare to find a guy like that in america. (Who is real and is not just wearing the chivalry to get the girl in bed). Also many girls dont figure out they want to date “the nice guy” until late or after college as well when they realize they need a stable life and someone they can depend on.

    As for me, I ended up accidentally being alone with the girl I liked one night in the city canal walk ways. (more people were supposed to join us) I could tell she was cold so I put my arm around her. I didnt actually say anything though. So at one point she asked if “this” meaning holding hands and being close was what I wanted. I said yes of course and that was my confession. And even though I insist, to this day she still insists on paying for her meals and its actually quite nice.

    Also for those of you like me and for some reason you just want to date a Japanese girl. Don’t worry about other people shaming your “Asian” fetish. As long as you love that person truly at the end of the day it doesnt matter how or what drove you to that person. Same the other way around. Just dont expect them to be your Kawaii asian school girl because thats just creepy.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Yes…! I’ve seen my Japanese and American girlfriends who just didn’t clarify with their “dates” on the status of their relationships..it is really sad but I’ve seen them crying because it turned out that they were seeing other girls they met online and once confronted, some guys said they never really agreed to be in a committed relationship so they were NOT cheating! This is why I have been apprehensive about dating..even though I did date quite a few people and some experiences taught me really hard lessons. Too many games involved because of this “dating” culture and you are correct that men in America (at least those that I met in Southern California) seemed to be looking for hookups-not even “dates” in their 20s. 🙁

      • Russ Schaeffler says:

        You have mentioned Games a few times in your replies to comments, so I thought you might be interested in the book…

        Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis.
        by Eric Berne (Author)

        We think we’re relating to other people–but actually we’re all playing games.

        Forty years ago, Games People Play revolutionized our understanding of what really goes on during our most basic social interactions. More than five million copies later, Dr. Eric Berne’s classic is as astonishing–and revealing–as it was on the day it was first published. This anniversary edition features a new introduction by Dr. James R. Allen, president of the International Transactional Analysis Association, and Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant Life magazine review from 1965.
        We play games all the time–sexual games, marital games, power games with our bosses, and competitive games with our friends. Detailing status contests like “Martini” (I know a better way), to lethal couples combat like “If It Weren’t For You” and “Uproar,” to flirtation favorites like “The Stocking Game” and “Let’s You and Him Fight,” Dr. Berne exposes the secret ploys and unconscious maneuvers that rule our intimate lives.
        Explosive when it first appeared, Games People Play is now widely recognized as the most original and influential popular psychology book of our time. It’s as powerful and eye-opening as ever.

  • blondein_tokyo says:

    I had the opposite experience. When dating Japanese guys, they always insisted on paying even when I’d offer. With American guys, if you offer they take you up on it. This can of course vary depending on the individual.

    I also doubt that women in Japan regularly ask guys out. From what I’ve observed, they aren’t any more forward than American women. I’m personally quite straightforward, and it always surprised the Japanese guys I dated. Talking to my friends, the number of women who ask men out on dates is quite small. I wonder if the author is mainly speaking if her experiences in junior high or high school, which is of course quite different from dating as an adult.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Yup I am talking about dating differences among young people (teenagers, 20s) in the US and Japan. I did offer to pay my meal for this guy because I wasn’t interested in seeing him again. 🙂 and he did accept my offer. I am not sure why that is but American women whom I know seem to wait and throw hints but they are hesitant to ask men out. Japanese guys may offer to pay if you are a foreign girl..especially from the wast. They probably offer to open the doors too..and it really depends on the person but Guys in America seem to stick to the general “dating” codes..either to get laid or finding the right girl. In short, many men that I knew back in LA (young men of course) were jerks. 🙂

  • Dustin Lamprecht says:

    Hmm, allow me to help fill in some gaps. In America, it is rather customary for men to ask women out and to pay for the date because of an old custom called ‘the gentleman’s code’ think of it like a code of conduct for interactions between men and women. Men were to be charming, polite, intelligent, and women under a similar code were to be polite, ladylike, and more from both sides. I cannot say anything about Japanese dating as I’ve never dated a Japanese woman. However in modern American dating, it has gotten very complicated. With people being more open and gender roles blurring, people play more games rather than be honest. It’s unclear why, however, that the men are about 60 to 40 jerk to nice man ratio, while American girls tend to play with emotions while stringing along friends to what end I don’t know but they suddenly find themselves alone because the ones they played with have their own families. It has become an enigma, dating in the states. Perhaps it’s why half of all marriages end in divorce.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Yes Fortunately I found a really nice handsome American guy..who isn’t very good at charming women..and unfortunately he did not pay for my teriyaki chicken bowl at this fast food restaurant on our first date even though he was the one who asked me out (!!) and I still saw him again because I liked him a lot but he told me he was just really nervous. 🙁 Yes there is the gentleman code…American men seem to stick to in order to get what they want (hookup, relationship) I don’t know but dating is way more complicated especially in Southern California that tends to value shallow things in life. People play a lot of mind games and my friend who is in her late 30s still have to deal with all these “games”

  • Juan R Barron Jr. says:

    The Japanese way sounds very interesting!

  • Tess de la Serna says:

    My boys, Ace (19 yr-old) with a good income and Spike (16 yr-old), who is a senior in high school (graduating) don’t want to have girlfriends yet. They think girls are expensive (being a mom, I think they are too young to get serious). Of course, in America, the dating custom here is more lax than in the Philippines where the guys do the confessing of their love. For a Filipino girl to do it is considered bold and would be misunderstood as “easy to get.” My boys told me that they want to do the confessing, not the other way. I guess, the “gentleman” attitude is still prevalent in some areas in America, especially in the area of the “Bible Belt” in Missouri.

    • Decoy Octopus says:

      I don’t mind confessing… I just wish I did not have the fear of being ostracized for it afterwards. But I wish I didn’t have to do it all alone, provided she liked me too. I’d want us to meet half way, 50/50. But as long as I won’t be thought of differently after I confess, then doing it all on my own wouldn’t be so bad.

      Yeah down here in the south it’s *very* strange for a girl to make the first move. I live in Texas, in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of rednecks and it’s all like “you gotta be a real big man and drive big trucks and be assertive!” and shit like that.

      • Aquaria says:

        I’ve lived all of my life in Texas, and most of my friends and I despise the real men with pickup trucks.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Yes I was mainly talking about young jerks who live in Southern California. 🙁 Unfortunately, dating seems rather complex and stressful as men tend to ask women out here but then they tend to have ultra motives.

  • Robert Chandler says:

    Asking out on a date is only a very small part of how it is different. How to handle Public Display of Affection is totally different. Men in both places expect it will develop into a physical relationship sooner than later. When you finally do realize you like each other in the west you hang out quite often but in Japan you might go a week without seeing each other sometimes longer. Also end game expectations are quite different. Western women expect it to end in love and happiness while Japanese women expect to end in being a house wife like it was the 1940’s.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      It is very difficult for women to advance their careers especially in Japanese corporate world..it’s nearly impossible while raising children so women in Japan usually want to “retire” once they find their financially secure husbands. Husbands don’t have to be rich but women tend to want to be freed from excessive work hours and I can understand why. Japanese government needs to work on this issue..I heard they were doing something.

      • Robert Chandler says:

        Thats totally true , the crazy hours they want for “full time” workers is horrible for both men and women. With kids you must have the support of grandparents/aunts/ etc or its literally impossible to raise a child here and work. But single women who dont want to work and not raise children are pretty high too. All this is the bigger reason for the decline in Japanese population. The culture has to change and unfortunately Japanese as a whole are horrible at fixing cultural problems because of the lack of true debate skills.

  • Decoy Octopus says:

    Seems like I need to move to japan. Asking a girl out can be pretty risky…. i mean it totally depends who you’re around in school or a work environment. I just think it’s too risky for me to ask out a girl, least I be falsely outed as a creep or if she denies me, a pathetic man. I know, I know, this doesn’t usually happen but I’ve SEEN it enough times to have it be an issue for me.

    Men are expected to do everything, and as a beta loser like myself, I just can’t compete. Women do not approach me ever. And I’ve approached them quite a few times, but not as many times as I would of liked to. I guess half of it is my fault for not going to them, due to the fear I mentioned above.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Sorry to hear that you feel that way about yourself..women are becoming more shallow in modern American society and I can see how stressful it is for men to have to ask women out, pick up initial bills and good guys seem to be screwed in many occasions especially when they are young.

      • Aquaria says:

        Complete BS. SOME women are shallow. Guess what? There have always been shallow women. Guess what else? There are, and always have been, an equal amount of shallow men.

        This is not anything new.

      • Decoy Octopus says:

        It is easier for others. To be fair, I think I would stand a better chance if I didn’t live in the middle of nowhere…. money isn’t a big deal for me. i do not mind paying.

        Thankfully I’m around some nice people. I asked out a girl a few months back but she declined. And she was worried that i was mad at her. This isn’t the only time this has happened to me. In the past when a girl had rejected me, she had asked if I was angry at her. Of course my response was “no, why would I be?” Is there anything to this? in your experience maybe?

        • Robert Chandler says:

          Lol had the same problem at home. I went from 0 real girlfriends to like 6 and finally found a wife. She isnt even Japanese. Being a good man is not enough in America. You have to be cool and look be the right fit with charisma.

    • monkeyshine89 says:

      We got a future charisma man here.

      • Decoy Octopus says:

        haha I know right. I am a dreg over here. in a different country, they may not know how much of a loser I am overseas.

    • James Pettler says:

      I totally sympathise with you, the intention of asking them out completely ruins the approach unless you are one of those alpha guys like you say. Asia is so much more agreeable as the women seem to be much more interested in the inner aspect of you…and not so much about how you present yourself. I think in this globalised society we have the chance to change our environment so that we do not have to conform to unsuitable cultural rules!

      • Decoy Octopus says:

        Well, I have a ponytail and wear black a lot so there it is for presentation haha.

      • Yumitolesson says:

        I agree..Japanese women..many of them are really nice..I know many nice American girls too. Sometimes it is a matter of preference.

  • Matt Erik Katch says:

    Growing up in the US, kokuhaku was basically how people were asked out, and while boys certainly did more of it than girls, the opposite wasn’t unheard of. I think splitting the bill is gaining some traction in the US as well. Haven’t dated there in awhile though, so it’s hard to say for certain. Anywho, I think I had a different experience than you dating in the US.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      It depends on what part of America you are from but yes it’s much more competitive, shallow in the southern california and I was not really liking the experiences. Online dating is very very common and you can never trust men because they could be paying the bills to get what they want! You just never know. But it’s just the small part of America and I truly hope my friends will find nice men whom they deserve.

  • Brittany says:

    To be honest, I have never had those issues. (born and raised in the US, but i have dated both in US and Japan.) My boyfriend is Japanese, and mfre often than not, he pays for everything (even when i have my wallet out, ready to pay), and he was the one that more or less “confessed”.
    there are MANY American men that expect you to pay your share, or make up for it later. either at the next place, on another date, or in the bedroom. I guess it really depends what kind of people you get involved with.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      We never know why American guys pay for girls’ coffee, dinner…movies..they could be looking for easy hookups or something more..women do have to pay them back one way or the other. So I insisted on paying my share if I wasn’t interested in seeing them again..a few of them “complained” that they spent enough money (dinner and movies) and I didn’t want to see them. But it also depends on the state, individual values..everybody is different. Japanese men don’t necessarily stick to the gentleman “code” but many men take good care of women and I liked it.

      • James Paul says:

        We usually pay because we ask the woman out and do not want to be a financial burden to them while they are spending time with us….

  • Heidi Cruz says:

    I lived in Japan for 9 months and as an American female I was approached by a couple of Japanese men who clearly were only interested in me because I am a Westerner.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      There are creeps everywhere 🙁

    • 8675309 says:

      I’m glad you had that experience if for no other reason than to better understand the “Asian fetish” in the U.S. and other Western countries.

      • Aj Shannon says:

        Even if you like only find a certain race appealing or cure I think as long as you treat that individual right and love them I dont see a problem with having a “thing” for a particular race or type.

        • Decoy Octopus says:

          That is how I am yet when I describe it to some people they think I’m a creep or a pervert douche bag or something. I am attracted to asians and women of central america…. and I’m white. But just because they are asian or hispanic doesn’t mean I’m gonna like them right off the bat. We have to connect in a way like any other relationship.

  • キキ says:

    I really prefer the Japanese way of dating. :))))

  • Maggie Flos says:

    I grew up in Germany and we have the American customs too, but that never stopped me from asking guys because at some point I got really frustrated just waiting for guys to finally have the courage to ask. So typically I take the initiative. Over here I don’t dare to ask a guy for one because of my mostly non existent Japanese and I simply don’t know how to go about it over here.

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Good for you! Girls should be allowed to open ask men out. Once you learn the language, you can learn to ask Japanese men out 🙂

  • Bradley Tyson says:

    I’m just wondering what guy wasn’t interested in you? And did he need glasses? Anyways great article. I think if you like someone you let them know and it’s easier to get the relationship going. I think in our modern culture it would be nice if a girl at least offers to pay for the whole meal. I would naturally decline but it’s a great gesture of how fair she could be in the rest of the relationship!

    • Yumitolesson says:

      In the beginning men in the US usually offer to pay but usually women start to pay our shares..and things become more equal 🙂

  • Gene Ricky Shaw says:

    I always found the “love confession” a little strange. It seems a lot like confessing an emotion that hasn’t developed yet. In other words, you confess love to someone you don’t really know. You know what they look like and a few superficial things (they like soccer, Mickey Mouse, etc) but other than that, it seems to be based on appearance.

    Asking someone out and spending time with them in the US is supposed to find out if you like them, not date them because you already like them. After a couple of dates you can figure out if you’re compatible or if there’s something that means you shouldn’t date. At least, it’s supposed to work this way. 🙂

    • Yumitolesson says:

      Dating is all about getting to know the other person…even if you are attracted to the other person, you will never know if there is a chemistry until you get to know him/her

    • HannahDJA says:

      A lot of the time love is based on appearance. People enjoy the way someone looks, therefore, they “fall in love at first sight”. It’s purely superficial, and if you get up the confidence to ask that person out, or they ask you out, you are given the opportunity to further your love for them, should their personality and way of existence actually be decent.

      I don’t like breaking things down into the “it’s because we’re animals” thing, but pheromones and looks have a lot to do with how we act towards certain genders, whether we know it or not or acknowledge it or not.

      Right down to the core of things, we want to propagate our species, and it’s natural for us to look for the most appealing matches, because that’s what would ensure our survival. So we look for people we consider attractive, and when we lay eyes on them, we want them. It’s a survival mechanism, but we’ve developed past the basis of just mindlessly humping everything that looks good to us.

      I think the kokuhaku ritual is based on the idea that the girl likes the guy because he’s cute, and it’s because he’s cute that she wants to get to know him and date him. Also, I should mention that a lot of people confess love to someone they don’t really know. Three dates isn’t a lot of time to get to know a person inside and out and you’ll never truly know someone, no matter how long you’ve known them. It’s enough to establish whether or not you’d really be able to tolerate the person you’re dating on a constant basis, but not enough to really get to know them.

      Bottom line, no matter how strange kokuhaku sounds, whether it seems like it’s expressing a fledgling emotion, or expressing interest based on appearance alone, you have to start somewhere when you date, and if appearance is where it starts, but definitely not where it ends, then ultimately it’s not that terrible of a thing. 😀

    • Lauren Patterson says:

      I think the love part is more of a lost in translation thing. As in the translation would be a love confession but thats not exactly what it means.

  • Magnus André Simonsen says:

    I think both Japan and the western countries have some good and bad things when it comes to dating.
    I have lived in Japan for 15 months and I discovered that the Japanese women are much more open when it comes to dating. They are not afraid to go over to you and say hi if they like you. I have also experienced some Japanese girls who was really directly and you knew from the start what they wanted.
    Those experiences is very rare in the Western countries I think. In my country (Denmark) the girls are usually waiting for the guys to come over and say hi, plus it is also the custom that the guy pays for the date.
    But on the other hand I think it’s more easy to tell if a girl really likes you in my country rather than in Japan. Because I think Japanese girls tend to always be kind, helpful and so on, and you don’t really know for sure if it’s because they like you or if it’s just because they always are this kind.
    But overall when it comes to dating I prefer the Japanese way, because I like that the girls actually dare to go and talk to you and they are not afraid to show that they like you, plus they don’t expect you to pay for the date. So I think the Japanese way makes the whole dating process more equal for both parts.

  • Sonia Kwiecinska says:

    Wow…I don’t go on many dates…but I’ve always had a problem with the whole “is this a date or are we hanging out?” thing. It seems so much easier in Japan!

  • ryo eriku says:

    this reminds me the culture shock I learnt from dating a Japanese girlfriend in college days in Canada as I was raised in Hong kong, she asked me out and insisted to pay my dinner. How lucky most Japanese guys are LOL

  • Monica De Puy says:

    Well, that’s only in the US. In some other places of America it works a bit different (I’m Panamanian). Here, you decide whether you want to confess first or go out with the person on dates a couple of times to see how things fare; it all depends on the particular situation. I personally rather #1, it’s faster to shake off any doubts this way xD

  • Joseph Adams says:

    Happy New Year Nakata-sensei! I can Identify with your feelings about the dating customs in America being a myriad of confusion! There are so many walks of life here! In my opinion there is a blurred line in between the ultra-conservative principle of courtship and the completely liberal/reckless dating of our youth. Perhaps the problem is not finding the right person it is BEING the right person. Many people do tend to just fill space and choose to start a relationship carelessly. Some low-lifes take hostages and wont be honest that they are not ready to be involved with someone else. I think of dating like an ice cream shop. When we were kids our parents gave us ice cream and it was our favorite flavor because its all we knew. As we grew up and find more independence we try new flavors. Then we see that there is not just Rocky Road or Vanilla, there is also butterscotch, or mint chocolate chip. Of course we try adding jelly beans, butterfinger, gummy bears, or marshmallows and we get experiences that just don’t work out due to poor expectations. Someday walking on the road of happy destiny we get to that combination of personality, values, aesthetics, etcs. that makes the most irresistible flavor we will always go out of our way for! It can also mean compromise between two individuals with completely different tastes. That is a HUGE word for people. So be BOLD! Be LOVED! FIND YOUR FLAVOR! Most of all be YOURSELF Yumi-san! Good Luck!

  • Joseph Adams says:

    Happy New Year Nakata-sensei! In all honesty, I feel I can identify with you about the western dating customs being a myriad of confusion. We have so many different walks of life here in America. Every individual is different! I think there is a blurred line between the ultra-conservative principles in a courtship and the reckless independent liberal dating we see from our youths. Beyond that it is just two people who are or are not compatible in a relationship. There is a big difference between finding the right person and BEING the right person. As well as, choosing to be involved in a relationship for the right intentions and the wrong intentions. It’s really up to the individuals themselves to decide. I think it’s like an ice cream store. When we are kids are parents gave us ice cream. That was our favorite because it was all we ever knew. Then as we get older and go to new shops we try new flavors. Some people find they like Cookie-dough, Sherbet, or Rocky Road. Some people like to add sprinkles or jelly beans or chocolate chips… But suddenly, there is always that one type of Ice cream we unexpectedly and whimsically purchased from walking into the shop one day! YES! I found there is nothing better than that irresistible flavor combination that is impossible to turn away from! Mr. Right? He’s out there Yumi-san. Be bold! Be Irresistible! Be Yourself!

  • Ezekiel says:

    Great article. Is kokuhaku just for younger people, or is it the general rule?

    • HannahDJA says:

      If you watch a lot of anime, or read a lot of manga, you’ll see confessions all over the place. Usually it’s after or before school, and the girl will approach her target and one of two things will happen, either she’ll give him a note that expresses her feelings or she’ll just say it outright. Sometimes she’ll run, sometimes she’ll stay with a scared face for the possible negative reaction.

      Kokuhaku literally means “confession”. It’s not limited to students or young people, but I feel like when you think about kokuhaku and what it means, you generally peg young and in love students to be flitting about performing kokuhaku rituals all over the place, whereas adults are a little more mature and discrete about it.

      Long story short: It’s a general rule. Anyone of any age and gender can do it, though it’s usually more common for women to confess to men, and it’s done with the intent of dating the person the ritual is performed on.

  • IchigoLover says:

    Woah, this was very interesting! Thanks for sharing! 😮

    Personally I think it’s the gentelmen thing to do and pay for your lady. unless she really wants to pay for herself then thats fine too. C:

    • Decoy Octopus says:

      I have no issue with paying for things. I’m good with that. It’s just I hate being seated as the prime mover to get things going.

      • Aquaria says:

        And that’s because you don’t understand the penalties women suffer if they’re assertive. The costs aren’t merely social. If we ask you out and we get mistreated or even raped, we’re outright told that we had it coming to us, and all sympathy for our plight, not to mention legal remedy, vanishes in a puff of smoke.

        The social conditioning and downright self-preservation are the reasons Western women are so reluctant to be assertive.


    In my opinion Japanese people are far more interesting than American people. The thing which I like about Japanese people is that they are very nice people and give much more warm welcome than any other person can give. I may be wrong bt Japan is better than America.

  • Kuze says:

    awesome facts yumi, i’m a guy who prefers japanese customs when it comes to confessions. i think women having to confess first is a totally awesome! but as a true gentleman, it’s a man’s job to meet the girl’s needs halfway by paying for the date fees. so for me, in order to strike a good impression when it comes to being a reliable man for her; i need to prove it by paying bills. hahaha….

  • Hassan Mughees says:

    i think the Japanese one would be better excluding the cheap dates and paying only your own bill , the male should pay for the entire date in my opinion and the girls should be liberal enough to ask a boy out !

  • Tora Chan says:

    “This isn’t a problem for Japanese men who usually will arrange a date at a very cheap cafe and still expect me to pay my share!”

    Why is this a surprise to you? You’re a grown, independent woman who should be able to pay for yourself. It is obviously a cheap place, so you should have no problem paying for it. The man doesn’t know you (yet, at least), so he owes you nothing.

  • Dani Pascual says:

    I learned the Japanese dating customs from watching anime so I copied them back in high school when it came to my crush, I pushed myself to confess to him even if my friends were already telling me I dont have to which ended badly since the guy wasnt interested in me. My country follows the American dating customs so my parents frowned upon my actions of confessing to my crush as well ask asking him out because they feel that it would make me a cheap girl if i do those and they believe its the guys job to confess to the girl and ask her out.

    • Decoy Octopus says:

      I think it should be anyone’s job to confess their love/ask out someone else. I really hate that there’s a stigma against either side. It can cause so much frustration…. If you’ve ever read Maison Ikkoku, you’d know what I mean lol

  • Russ Schaeffler says:

    It is really a catch 22 in the U.S., it is expected that men ask women out ( it may even seem desperate if a women asks), but at the same time many men don’t want to seem too aggressive and try to take their time or play it cool. The result can be weeks or months of just being friends until the guy mustards up the courage or is finally asked by the woman, but if the woman has to ask she probably is having doubts about the guy’s interest in her.

    • Aquaria says:

      It’s not just that for the women. Some of it is also the social conditioning, and how we will be blamed for making the first move if anything goes wrong later, up to and including abuse or rape.

  • noob168 says:

    Mm…I really like how girls in Japan are more willing to confess and like u said. it’s much simpler and straightforward…I don’t know…seems like to me Japanese way of dating is better.

  • Christopher Jones says:

    i think i prefer the japanese method,

  • Nikhil Gala says:

    Kokuhaku, interesting.. I’m from India, even in my country dating custom is same as America. Boy approaches girl, date, boy pays and half of the couple they decide of relationship. Thanks for the information. I’m waiting for kokuhaku now. Lol

  • Jello says:

    I would prefer the Japanese way. It would be nice to have a woman make the first move.

  • Signe' Coleman says:

    I don’t date, but I think I would like a mixture of the two; Men/boys doing the kokuhaku. That way there is not wondering if he is interested seriously or not and I wouldn’t have to put myself on the line 😉

  • Luigi Hikari says:

    Loved the post! Please keep up the good work! I also think “kokuhaku” is better. Relationships are difficult enough already without the games…



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