What You Don’t Understand about Japanese Women

I’ve been in Japan a long time, and I’ve seen Western men’s ideas change and twist over all that time. Weird thing is, I didn’t come in with a lot of them. I just thought the country looked cool because of the trains, mountains, orderliness, development, and fantastic food. I came because it was different and I could make something of a living. I swear up and down I had no special interest in Japanese women.

True story!

But in about 3 months, it changed, based on… reality. Based on what I really saw. I’m not putting myself on a higher ground here. It’s great to know what you want. But when what you want is based on fantasy, you’re being immature and simplistic.

If you’re going to be dating Japanese women, you need to understand the truth about some of the stereotypes and misconceptions about the women that you are going to meet. The most common ones are: 

  • Japanese women are materialistic
  • Japanese women are childish
  • Japanese women are obedient
  • Japanese women love Western men
  • Japanese women are crazy about sex

The pathetic truth is these are all false, and they’re all the result of either outdated or completely inaccurate generalizations. (Japanese women do this, too. see: Japanese Women’s Common Misconceptions about Western Men)

I’m going to walk you through each of these in brief. Sorry if I crush your dreams. Japanese women are still, for the most part, well-presented, well-mannered, and charming. Simply being well-composed and smiling a lot, while dressed and made up impeccably, goes a long way, even with no words. But let’s get real for a sec here, mmkay.

Roll the misconceptions…

Japanese women are materialistic

“They love shopping, they love designer labels, and they love to spend money on high heels and high fashion.” In fairness, there’s a truth to this one. But to put it in context, Tokyo is an international fashion mecca. You will see hordes of stylishly outfitted women walking the streets of Tokyo. Not so long ago, you’d see them decked out to the nines on any occasion, with expensive designer bags and the latest styles. Heck, they made the styles.

Well, for one, those days vanished in the last decade, unless you never leave Ginza, and even then, 50% chance she’s Chinese.

But it’s not always fair to say that Japanese women are “materialistic.” Since so many Japanese women live at home with their parents (in relatively small apartments compared to Western countries), Japanese women tend to save money on rent, and are able to spend more money (relative to the rest of their income) on clothes and their exterior appearance.

Also, following the “two lost decades” of economic recession, “fast fashion” cheap clothing, and an overall greater freedom to be casual and individual, everyday Japanese women no longer place much emphasis on cost. Style is every bit as important, but it can be a mix-and-match of a few expensive items, a Y1,200 t-shirt from Forever 21, H&M undies, and some Uniqlo socks.

Japanese women might love fashion, but they know how to be frugal.

Japanese women are childish

In Japan, grown women may center a day’s activities around shopping and cake. And it’s not unusual for a woman in her 30s or above to have a season pass for Tokyo Disneyland. As well as a favorite character. And yes, the ubiquitous Hello Kitty lives on. (By the way, Hello Kitty’s not a cat, she’s a British schoolgirl. WTF!?)

So the judgement of Western men and women alike is often that Japanese women are childish. Again, this can largely be explained by cultural differences.

Japanese does have a culture of “cute” (kawaii). It also has an enduring infatuation with youth, for better or for worse. Women are encouraged both by peers and media to be feminine, and this often equates with this cuteness. Put this together and, in Japan, it means liking cute stuff and giggling doesn’t mean your growth is stunted. It’s acceptable.

Just because a woman loves Hello Kitty doesn’t mean she wants to regress back to her junior high school days. By the way, Disneyland is a perfectly valid vacation destination for adults in the US, as well.

Japanese women are obedient

Haha! No! She may go along with you at the start, but eventually, unless she’s scared to death of you, you’ll learn the art of the silent “no”. And when she says “yes” it may just mean she heard you, not that she agrees or will do what you say. The notion of the obedient Japanese woman has always been something at face value, and those with deeper experience in the culture realize the obedience is for appearances.

Japanese women have their own desires, and they will follow them.

Japanese women love Western men

Alright, so this is grounded in partial truth. It’s partial regarding the women who prefer Western men, both then and now. And it’s partial in that, yes, some women like at least the idea of Western men. These women are more likely to have never had a substantive relationship with a Western man.

In the post-War years, Japan was in a state of defeat. After they learned (most) Americans were not evil devils, they came to admire the heck out of them. American symbolized progress and strength. It also laid the groundwork for Japan’s remarkable rebirth after being leveled.

Yet still, this did not result in a country of half-Japanese/half-American kids. Not at all – Japanese went right on making babies and families with other Japanese, for the more part. And into the ’80s and the bubble economy, yes, America and its men were looked to in some idealized ways. And yes, some really dorky guys could have quite good success with the Japanese ladies.

I have personally witnessed this trickle down to what is now more of a niche curiosity than a love or even adoration of American, or any Western, men. Even compared with a decade or so ago, when it was common to see American TV on the Japanese networks, there’s now basically none. There’s a lot more Korean TV.

As a rule, Japanese women do not prefer Western men. Despite what Japanese and Westerners back home will both tell you. A Japanese woman may like the idea of an adventurous fling or two with a Western man. However, a good solid, stable-income-earning public servant or company man is the closest there is to an ideal. A handsome young Japanese man who rolls up his sleeves and works hard.

Japanese women are crazy about sex

Oh boy, here we go again…this stereotype is an example of the “Asian fetish” mindset at work. And yet, many Western men have absorbed parts of this mindset without fully realizing it. Asian women (and by extension, Japanese women) are often viewed by Western men, on a certain level, as being mysterious, sensual, prim and proper, and yet fully uninhibited – does any of this sound familiar?

The important thing is to treat women with respect, treat them as individuals, and don’t expect any Japanese woman to conform to a specific fantasy ideal of what “the perfect Japanese woman” is supposed to be. The women you will meet in Japan are all real people with complex personalities and various facets to who they are and what they want in life. These real women are ultimately far more interesting (and more fun) than any stereotype.

What are some other misconceptions that you’ve heard about Japanese women, or Asian women, or Japanese culture in general? What are some ways to show women that you understand Japan and are not limited by these kinds of stereotypes?

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