Want to pick up girls in Japan?
Japanese women are prized the world over for their class, elegance and beauty yet the dating and pick up scene in the country are notoriously hard…especially for foreigners. Known colloquially as gaijin, non-Japanese men (and women) are often openly barred from lots of service industries including those in the adult entertainment sector like soaplands and the huge Fuzoku market.
On the dating scene, you won’t find any signs saying ‘No Gaijin’ but does Johnny Foreigner have a snowflakes chance in hell of picking up girls in Japan?
In this feature we take a look at what Japanese women are like to try and pick up, the culture of ‘hooking up’ in Japan and our best advice for success.
How Easy Is It to Hook Up in Japan?
Known for being an insular and formal nation, it may come as a surprise to find out that there are plenty of casual dating opportunities in Japan. This is a country with one of the largest adult entertainment and sex sectors in the world but, conversely, a country where talking about it and being demonstrative in public is frowned upon.
On the whole, casual sex and hooking up is just a prominent in cities like Tokyo and Osaka as it is in any other major international location but it just isn’t as overt. Plus, those tactics you might employ which are successful in New York, Toronto or London just don’t work here.
In order to pick up women in this Asian country you will need to understand the culture and adapt your techniques.
Women in Japan
Whilst we don’t want to generalize too much, Japanese women are regarded the world over for their beauty and elegance but there is far more here than meets the eye.
Traditional yet modern, conservative yet liberal, the country is a mass of contradictions and it’s hard to pin down exactly what Japanese women are. I know, right? What do you mean you can’t stereotype an entire nation?
Yes, women in Japan are as complicated as women in the rest of the world but culturally there are some differences.
Despite being a modern and developed nation, there is still a high importance placed on traditional family values and at the heart of this is some deeply embedded gender stereotyping. Women are often more submissive and shyer than in the West and expect men to take the initiative when it comes to dating.
This also translates into fashions as well as behaviors and women in Japan tend to dress in a more feminine way than their Western counterparts.
Often regarded as elegant and sophisticated, there is also a tendency towards childish behavior at times.
There are lots of ways to generalize about women in Japan from age and work they do to where they were brought up and where they live to the kind of life and travel experiences they’ve had.
But, in general, when it comes to pick ups, we can broadly narrow women down into one of four groups. Based mainly on class and education, there are obviously going to be girls who fall outside of these ‘classifications’ but knowing the kind of women you are trying to pick up will inform you of the kind of approach you want to take.
Often more affluent and usually from middle to upper class backgrounds, these girls have worked hard, graduated from university and will have gone on to have successful careers. Generally pretty conservative, they are likely to speak very good English and have experience of socializing/working with foreigners.
Many will be looking to progress in their jobs and as a result are often too busy for, or not looking, to date. When they do find themselves in a relationship it tends to be one they have formed in the workplace or from inside their social circle. If they are out to let their hair down on a rare work-free evening/weekend then you might find them in classier bars, restaurants and theaters.
Some of these ladies may well be amenable to an approach for a casual encounter but you’d have to be up to your absolute A-game to pick up a woman from this group and this includes how you are dressed as well as how you behave.
This middle category of Japanese woman refers to those who perhaps haven’t been to university but who have maybe had some college education. They will have some English and perhaps a little interest in foreign culture.
These women can have a variety of day jobs and careers but generally work to live rather than being career driven like those above. Principally, they want to go to work to earn a wage to buy nice things and have some fun of a weekend.
Often working in the retail, fashion service, beauty or entertainment sectors many can be very attractive indeed and they will dress to impress when they are out for the night.
Trendy and very much from the modern Japan, they embrace new ideas, technology and fashions and will expect any man that tries to hit on them to have the same attitude.
It is from this group that the majority of foreigners will have success in picking up in Japan.
More of a sub-category really, there are a select number of women in Japan who exclusively date foreigners.
This can be for a number of reasons including those ladies who want to bone up on their English as well as those who genuinely dig a Western looking dude.
It is reasonably obvious which women this category relates to as they will be the ones paying you the attention. Just be aware that women who are actively seeking a gaijin are often looking for more regular dates either with a view to things becoming serious or just to make sure they get regular ‘tuition’!
There are plenty of services that can point you towards these women, including Universe Club Japan.
We couldn’t think of a nicer way to describe this category of women but you know what we are talking here. These are ‘normal’, ordinary women who end up working in menial jobs and lack the skills or ability to further their careers and/or education.
Women in this category generally won’t be ‘stunners’ but this doesn’t mean they can’t be excellent pick up material. Just because they work in a convenience store doesn’t mean you couldn’t have a good time. Not often out and about in the usual clubs and bars, these woman are pretty approachable but often do not speak very good English.
And, remember, not all women in the country are Japanese.
Just like you, there can be a lot of international women in the towns and cities of Japan looking for a hook up.
This can be a lot easier as there is less of a cultural or language barrier and you will usually be found at the same (foreigner friendly) bars and clubs. In some parts of the country there are often International Parties (IPs) which will have a mix of Japanese and other nationalities.
The ‘Nanpa’ Culture in Japan
Also known as nampa, this Japanese word describes the culture of flirting and hooking up which is pretty common in the under 30s.
Groups of young men, called nanpa boys, will hang out in areas where there is a high footfall of ladies and approach them in an attempt to get a date. Often wearing expensive clothes, shoes and sporting crisp haircuts, you can find these kinds of guys in shopping malls, subway stations and around busy shopping districts or street intersections.
The culture of nanpa is regarded by many with a mix of admiration (at the bravery of men who approach women to date in this way) and annoyance.
Just as women on the streets of London, New York and Paris may find it flattering to be asked out at random, if they are pestered, it can become very irritating. Whatever people feel about it, it is useful to know as the practice has set a precedent in the cities and women have become used to being hit on by strangers.
But what about foreigners and hooking up in Japan?
Unlike many Asian countries, Japan is ethnically far less diverse. An island nation, the population is predominantly Japanese with foreigners only representing around 1.5%. As a result, there is a distinct aversion to dating gaijin but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible.
In fact, there is some hope to be taken from the fact that a lot of Japanese women are too busy to date traditionally so they may be more amenable to the idea of a casual encounter than getting involved in a relationship.
Apart from the nanpa boys, Japanese men in general are regarded as pretty bad at being direct and taking the lead when it comes to casual dating. As a result, foreigner’s attempts to pick girls up are more noticeable as they are rarer. This means, Western guys have a reputation for being very forward.
That being said, those big cities like Tokyo are full of sexually assertive Japanese men who do know how to make the first moves so don’t get your hopes up that picking up girls in Japan is easy for gaijan men because they are bolder.
It is competitive out there so what tips do you need to boost your chances of success?
Top Tips for Picking Up Girls in Japan
Okay, so what advice can we give you to help you pick up girls in Japan?
Dress to Impress
We cannot stress this strongly enough but the Japanese are a culture of people who place a lot of value in image and, with that, prestige. Nothing says this more than by the way you are dressed and it’s worth remembering that old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Of course, how you dress is very much dependent on the kind of Japanese woman you want to pick up and where. Wearing a suit to a fancy hotel bar is to be recommended but not if you are going clubbing. Simple clothes that fit well are important but you should be aiming for expensive and classy over casual and comfortable.
If you are hoping to pick up a girl in Japan then smelling good is just as important as looking good. Cleanliness is important so go for a subtle aftershave but do use plenty of fabric conditioner for your clothes. Surveys of Japanese women aged 18-30 suggest that smelling clean is far more of a turn on than smelling of cologne.
Respect Personal Space
Japan is a small island, roughly 26 times smaller than the United States and with a population of around 126 million people; space is at a premium and this includes personal space. Culturally, the Japanese aren’t a ‘touchy/feely’ one and those Western ideas of breaking down physical barriers by regular touching just don’t work here. In clubs this can be different where the proximity and density of people means that bumping and grinding is to be expected. Save your moves for the privacy of your hotel room or her apartment and certainly don’t start fondling or kissing in public.
Pick the Right Spot
There is little point heading to the business district at night or sitting in a bar in the afternoon so do your research of where to head to find the opportunities. Every city is different and even within Tokyo itself, some districts are better than others. If you think you’ll do better in a club then pick one that is foreigner-friendly and matches the kind of girls you are interested in. Again, there’s no point hitting Roppongi if you are looking for a cougar or career woman type.
The daygame in Japan is pretty good going and remember those nampa boys have been doing this a long time before you came along so most women will recognize the approaches. It can be intimidating trying to pick up in this way and it takes some balls to do it but the benefits are, it’s free, it’s easy to try with a lot of women in a short space of time so rejections shouldn’t mater plus you should learn something.
The streets are the best place to do this but also check out DVD rental stores at the weekend, grocery stores, train stations (and trains), cafes and shopping malls.
Wait…..Before Moving In
Okay, so you’re in a good place and you’ve seen a good-looking Japanese woman to hit on. Just hold your horses before you move in. Check who she is with and make sure that isn’t with family or a significant other. Does she look busy? Is she in a rush? Is she acting nervous when you make eye-contact? Women on their own or with female friends who are behaving casually are far more likely to respond well to your opening lines.
Match Your Energy
If you’ve followed the advice above then you can improve your chances of success by matching your approach to her ‘energy’. If she’s in a rush and you still want to make your advance then you can make eye contact, tell her you know she’s busy which is why you’ve made all the plans for later and give her your phone number before walking away. Turn and tell her you’ll see her later and to make sure she calls you. Likewise, if she appears casual and ‘flakey’ then don’t come on too strong.
Don’t Waste Time
Traditional pick up advice is all about spending as much time with a woman as possible before laying down your moves. In Japan, this can be a negative approach. Yes, you should definitely try and get to know her a little and make her feel special but taking too much time before making your intentions clear may mean you miss the boat.
If you’re in a club, make a move early as you are likely to be left holding the door for someone else who has been bolder.
Don’t Fake an Excuse
What we mean by this is drop the pretense of asking for directions or some other lame excuse to talk to a potential pick up. The women here appreciate the honesty of spontaneity and will respond better to a simple question; what are your plans for the afternoon? Okay, so you’re free now? How about a drink with me?
Keep It Simple
Having a direct approach in mind before you open your mouth is essential. Know what you are going to say and have a backup for what comes next depending on how she responds. We can recommend avoiding physical compliments as these come off as disingenuous. Instead, ask her what she is up to, have some casual, fun conversation ready and try to work out if she is warming to your agenda. Once you get a sense of connection, get her number or suggest you go for that drink (or whatever).
Drop the Banter
Unless you speak Japanese extremely well and understand the culture enough to make jokes, your banter that works wonders in the West will be useless in Japan. Your witty or sarcastic humor will often be misinterpreted. Just keep things light, be relaxed and try to avoid any jokes…they just don’t translate well.
Don’t Be THE Novelty Foreigner
Japanese people are often just as intrigued by Western culture as we in the West are by theirs. As a result, foreigners can often find themselves the center of attention in bars or clubs but for the wrong reasons; your attempts at speaking the language, the way you use chopsticks or dress. It can feel like you are winning because, after all, you are getting attention but as a ‘clown’ you are unlikely to leave with a girl at the end of a night.
Whilst the pace of life in Japan is often lived at a frenetic speed, social interactions just can’t be hurried. Again, unless you are in a club or adult entertainment venue, personal space is prime. You can be confident and assertive but there is a huge difference between this and being aggressive and pushy. Likewise, don’t give up on a potential pick up too soon but don’t be too persistent. The key here is striking a balance.
Take The Lead
Though times are changing across Asia, and Japan is a very modern country, there is still a deeply embedded cultural attitude towards gender and relationship dynamics. Surprising though it may be, the traditional view of a patriarchal society is alive and well. This means that the guys role in dating and hooking up should pretty much be a leading one. This doesn’t mean you should be bossy, controlling or aggressive but men should make the suggestions. It may contradict what you have done in European or North American cities but it does seem to work if you do it politely.
Own Your Masculinity
As with the above piece of advice, masculinity is not a toxic trait in Japan and there are many male characteristics that are admired by women which you should use to your advantage. A low voice is an attractive feature as is a ‘manly’ built, assertive body language and displaying leadership qualities.
Deal With Rejection and Move On
And finally, if at first you don’t succeed…just keep trying. The pick up game is always about the number of women you ask so if you fall at the first fence and head home to lick your wounds, you’ll never cross that finish line.
Don’t take rejections to heart, there are plenty of reasons (and all of them valid) that you don’t get lucky. They may be busy, have a boyfriend, don’t want to date foreigners, don’t speak English, not in the mood or disliked your shoes! Whatever it is, just move on. Success is also measured in action and you should be proud of asking not feeling blue because you got turned down.
Featured images via PickPic.