This article originally featured in the April 2021 issue of Connect.

by Alyssa and Christian


We’ve all been there. . . you get a phone number from someone you’re interested in but don’t know what to send as the first text, where to set up a date, and even how fast you should respond. Add living in another country into the equation, and you have new variables to take into consideration. In lieu of White Day, we are going to interview two people who have lived extensively in Japan and can give down-to-earth dating advice while looking at cultural considerations.

Tell us a bit about yourself before we get into the questions

Alyssa: Hi everyone, I’m Alyssa! I’m Japanese-American and currently living the city life. However, I was originally born and raised in Ibaraki surrounded by beautiful nature. I love to stay active and very interested in fashion. To stay active I like to dance, sing, cook and work out. I’m also a sneakerhead who especially loves Vans and Converse. I probably need a bigger space in my room for my lovely sneakers haha. Anyways, I love to make people laugh or put a smile on their face. Back in college, my friends used to describe me as a jolly comedian when I imitate other people. Hopefully with my experience, I can share some awesome advice with you all!

Christian: Hi, I’m Christian. I’m New Zealand-Japanese and currently living in the Northern Fukuoka area. I was raised in Hiroshima and the Eastern Auckland area. I love tech as I’m currently studying computer science in my spare time. I also love going to the beach and catching some good waves. I want to be a software developer and develop systems that the people really need. I’ve had my fair share of dating experiences in my time living in Japan, and I’m thrilled to tell you all about it.

Let’s start the questions off easy:
Best place for a first
Date in japan and why?

Alyssa: Hmm. . . there’s so many good places in Japan so it’s kind of hard to choose one best place. It’s also hard because it depends on the season, area, person, etc. . . But I would say, one of the best and most common places to go is the zoo. Why? There are many reasons!

The zoo I went to before had an amusement park within the zoo, so I recommend finding a combination like this. Walking around watching, feeding, or even patting the animals will keep you busy and is fun. After spending time with the animals you can go straight to the amusement park! Getting on the rides will give you both extra excitement!

I’m not a huge fan of scary rides but it surely does make the atmosphere more fun by screaming. Haha

Stomach starts to talk? Getting hungry after the rides? Usually in places like this there are restaurants and some small cute cafes you both go to.

Take a seat, relax, and enjoy a meal with your date. That’s the best timing to share good stories about the date so far and get a feel for the other person’s personality. Knowing and learning about each other through the conversation. This date spot should give you lots of time to warm up to each other!

Christian: There are so many things you could do in Japan that would be fun, but the one I can’t go mentioning without are Izakayas. Having some drinks and getting to know each other through some Izakaya style dishes have a little special place in my heart. There are so many great places, each with unique vibes and styles. Many people choose to stay in Japan for this experience. So, do some research, maybe through “Taberogu” to find an awesome place and you’ll surely have a good time!

Lets step things up a little bit:
Is the best way to meet someone online, in person (direct approach), or introduction by a friend or family?

Alyssa: Except for an intro-
duction by family, I experi-enced all of these scenarios.

Online is good but sometimes it could be scary and dan-gerous. In my opinion, meet-ing by a friend’s introduction is the one of the best ways to meet someone.

The reason why I selected this is because it’s more safe. There’s trust between me and my friend, so my friend should know my type or ask my type before a date happens. Basically there’s no way that my friend would introduce me to a weird person. Haha

Again, I’ve never experienced an introduction by my family. But if that happens, that shows they are serious about it. . .

Christian: I think each one has pros and cons.

You could get to know a lot of people very quickly online. But it might not be what you expect when you get to actually see them, and that might be kind of off-putting for some people.

I would say a good old direct approach is the way to go.

I like in-person approaches because it’s just direct, simple, and they will probably remember you the next time you talk to them opposed to meeting someone online.

Alyssa: In messages, I would start with something casual like “Hello!” Haha.

Getting more technical: How would you want to be approached or how would you approach a person in public? Once you exchange information, how should the first couple of messages go?

Basically use some casual way to greet the person and begin the conversation. But in general, people would start with “Hajimemashite” and end the first message with “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu.” Something like that would be the common way to start the first conversation.

Either way, the key is “Greeting.”

After that I’ll start with questions like “What did you do today?” or “What did you have for lunch?” It’s not a special topic but very casual to answer it, so it should help the other person get comfortable with you.

In person, I notice what the person is wearing and say something nice. I’ll give a compliment like “Nice jacket! Where’s it from?” and make the conversation start with a good energy. By all means, there’s no person who hates or avoids compliments. Compliments should make the person smile or help to open the conversation.

Christian: I really like it when someone compliments me on something. I love a thoughtful compliment, haha. When meeting someone, I just say hello and introduce myself! I like asking things like, “How do you spend your time other than study/work?” or “What are you interested in?” I feel like these questions let me know what kinds of things they are into and how I can relate to them.

So you’re on the first date. What are good topics to talk about or what things do you pay attention to first on the date?

Alyssa: In this situation too, I would start with a compliment. I don’t prepare to do this, but as soon as I see the person, the first thing I notice is their fashion. Why? It’s very simple. Because I’m a fashion lover! I would probably start with fashion topics or something really simple.

For example:
A. Isn’t it nice weather today?
B. Yes, it is.
A. I really love the sun, especially in summer. My favorite thing to do is go hiking. What’s your favorite thing to do?
B. Wow, that sounds fun! I like going to the beach.

These are examples, but as you can see, it’s important to find common interests to keep the conversation going and have fun!

Christian: I usually like to complement them on something and ease into topics like their hobbies or passions. I love hearing about what people are passionate about.

I always pay attention to what the other person cares about, their priorities, and what they want to achieve in the near future.

Okay, so you go on a first date and it’s terrible. Maybe it’s
a catfish situation or the other person is talking about their ex the whole time. What do you do?[sub-heading]

Alyssa: Interesting question, but I have never experienced a catfish situation. If I was in this position, I think I would pull out of it, but not immediately. I’ll take a little bit of time to figure this person out and get more details. But at the same time, I could be asking, “Who are you?”

To leave, I might say something like:

Me: Ohh, I have a stomachache, let me use the bathroom really quick.
The Guy: Oh ok, I’ll wait here
Me: (once I’m back) Sorry I don’t feel good, I should go back home.

That would be the end of it. If he wasn’t my type, then I would be done. However, if he catches my interest, then this connection would continue. To be honest, this is my imagination, so in reality I don’t know exactly what I would do.
Christian: Both are a total red alert for me, but I would definitely make the most out of the situation. Whatever the situation is, adapting and making the most out of the time would be the priority for me.

Any final advice for our readers on dating in Japan?

Alyssa: The best advice is Ganbatte kudasai!

Put forth effort and focus on communicating a lot with the person. Even if it’s boring, show interest. And if you communicate as much as I do, you’ll start to learn how to enjoy the dating process more. I hope all this information will be helpful for you!

Christian: Even if it’s not going the way you thought or would’ve wanted, just know there are a lot of fish in the sea and never rush into things. Take your time and let them know how you feel when you need to. Patience is key!

Alyssa is a fashion and sneaker enthusiast currently residing in TokyŌ. In her free time she loves dancing and singing. She loves fitness and aspires to help others with their fitness journey.

Christian is a business student with a rich background being raised in Hiroshima and Auckland, New Zealand. He is currently studying to become a software developer in the Fukuoka area where he resides.