Japanese Dating Culture and Social Norms

Andrew Gung

My recent viral video on Japanese culture has caused quite a stir so I wanted to delve deeper into this topic in a full blog post.

I have been a dating coach for over seven years, and I've coached thousands of men to improve their social and dating skills. For many men, this is a rite of passage—you get your career right, you get that great job, or you start a business, and you make money, and now it's time to invest in your dating skills.

You've invested all that time in improving your career. Still, many of my clients found that having money does not guarantee relationship success or understanding how to attract women. However, suppose you have career success and dating skills. Combining the two is a magic formula that makes you an attractive catch to many women.

One thing I love to do is travel, and I recommend it to all my clients. It builds confidence and literally expands your boundaries. It is true what they say, "The world is a book, and if you don't travel, you only read one page." If you want to become an attractive man of the world - travel.

One place I love to visit is Japan, and I've been to Tokyo many times. Japan has a vibrant culture. However, there are some cultural norms there regarding women that I, and many others I know, have found unsettling and even disturbing.

We are fascinated with Japanese culture in the Western world, from Anime to traditional customs. This has led to further fascination with Japanese dating culture and how it can impact the many expats living in Japan.

Concepts like "wabi-sabi," which means the beauty of imperfection, and "kawaii," which means cuteness, draw global fascination. The result is that attention to detail and minimalism are essential in everything from date choices to fashion. A creative and thoughtful appreciation of everyday beauty, peace, and harmony is considered romantic.

Commitment and seriousness are a massive part of the traditionalist culture in Japan, where dating is intended to lead to long-term commitment with a view to marriage.

In Western culture, it's common for men or women to make the first move and ask someone out. In Japan, however, the culture is much more formal and indirect.

Group dates are widespread, known as "gokon," where people meet formally before meeting privately if there is mutual interest.

The practice known as "kokuhaku" is unique to Japanese dating. In this practice, one person expresses feelings to the other, forming a formal relationship. In Western culture, entering a relationship is more likely to happen organically after dating and when the attraction is there.

These formal customs can sometimes suppress or stigmatize more natural social and dating skills. They can also result in bizarre and unsavory behaviors that appear to contradict formal culture.

Japan's Social Norms: A Double-Edged Sword

Politeness and respect are a massive part of Japanese society and create strict customs and formalities that must be adhered to. This is part of the idea of creating a harmonious collectivist society, where people are expected not to act for their individual desires but for the benefit of their community. Here, we see the most significant difference between Japanese and Western societies. In Western societies, individualism and competitiveness are encouraged. People see liberalism and freedom of expression as fundamental rights.

These strict social structures and codes have led to some unsavory behaviors being normalized, which would be shocking in Western contexts. The phenomenon of "chikan" refers to women being groped or other lewd acts being committed against women in public spaces, most commonly on the subway. Despite being illegal, this behavior is prevalent. It often results in no action by the police or a slap on the wrists. It reflects a combination of a lack of education on sexual harassment, basic dating, and social skills and a view of women in Japanese culture as subordinate. The result is women's rights not being protected. The cultural emphasis on harmony and conformity creates a situation where women seek to avoid conflict or embarrassment so they don't speak out against their aggressors, as they are often not believed and accused of causing a disturbance. Victim blaming creates an environment that perpetrators can exploit and where many women are traumatized and insecure when in public places.

The Japanese government has implemented various response measures, such as women-only train carriages during peak hours and campaigns encouraging victims to speak out.

The representation of women in media and entertainment does not help matters. Women are often portrayed in very traditional roles and objectified. I've seen this on Japanese TV and films, particularly Anime and manga. This portrayal can reinforce stereotypes and limit ideas of the roles women can aspire to, as well as the objectification of women.

Japan's Social Norms: A Double-Edged Sword

Provide an overview of Japan's social norms, highlighting the respect, politeness, and community-oriented behavior that characterize Japanese society.

Transition into discussing the "dark side," focusing on normalizing certain behaviors that might be considered inappropriate or illegal in Western societies.

The Role of Anime in Shaping Perceptions

Anime has global reach and a diverse range of genres that have entered Western society. Titles such as "Death Note" and "Attack on Titan" have gained substantial global audiences.

However, Anime often includes nudity and sex acts on women, leading to possible desensitization. These acts include stalking and sexual assault, which might contribute to the normalization of these behaviors and influence youth.

An example is "Kakegurui," where the plot portrays the main character as enjoying getting ganged up on by male students. This depiction romanticizes non-consensual behavior and sexual assault. Another example is in "7 Deadly Sins," where the main character is sexually assaulted twice. Still, the plot doesn't mention this at all.

Squeaks and squeals from female characters are also widespread in Anime, contributing to the infantisation of women. In "High Rise Invasion," the character "Kuon Shinzaki" has an unrealistically high-pitched voice, moaning and squeaking in an unnecessarily sexualized way. The main protagonist in "Fruits Basket," "Tohru Honda," is infantilized with a child-like attitude and appearance and exhibits random squeaks and moans.

These portrayals of women in Anime, which are often viewed by children and young people, have been suggested to contribute to the normalization of sexual assault and strange, immature perceptions of sexuality.

If you are visiting Japan as a foreigner or are currently living there, you must understand the cultural differences. You must respect boundaries and understand consent, which often involves more formality than in Western society. This will help avoid misunderstandings and uncomfortable situations.

If you're a woman in Japan who finds they are a victim of sexual assault or stalking, you are wasting your time if you go to the police. In most cases, they will not be helpful, or at worst, could result in you getting yourself in trouble. Your best alternative is to contact your embassy or expat support groups for help.

I do not hate Japan at all. I absolutely love the country, the food, and the culture (for the most part). Japan has quite a unique and different culture compared to other countries, so if you travel there, simply be street-smart and avoid any trouble. However, know that if you are in danger, the Japanese police will most likely not help you.

I encourage you to continue to travel while taking the necessary precautions and being street-smart. Millions of people visit Japan every year completely safely and without instant.

I have coached thousands of men to improve their dating and social skills. If you're struggling to get on dates, schedule in your call with one of our team members via our website and we can chat about what we can do to help you.

Andrew Gung

The CEO and founder of Core Confidence, Andrew and has been studying, applying, and teaching the skills to develop real, meaningful relationships with incredible people over the last decade.