Dating a Japanese Guy 日本男性と付き合って


“You should go home to Australia, before you fall in love with a Japanese guy. That’s the best thing for you. International marriages are hard work. Go home and marry a nice Aussie boy and start a family.”

「日本人と恋に落ちる前に、オーストラリアに帰った方がいいよ。ジャッキーにとってそれが一番いいわ。国際結婚は難しいもん。帰って優しいオージーと結婚して、子供も産みなさい。」

This is what my Japanese grandmother told me about a year and a half ago, when I was debating whether I should stay for a fifth year or not. She made a valid point; international marriages can be a lot of work, especially if there is a language barrier. However, I had been single for almost four years by that stage and seriously liked my chances of staying single for one more year. This is Japan after all, the land of the single foreign women!

一年半前にもう一年宮崎に滞在するかどうか迷った時、ジャパニーズばあちゃんに言われた言葉。間違っていないと思う。国際結婚は難しいと思う。特に言語の壁がある場合。しかし、4年間ずっとお一人様だったから、まさか彼氏が出来るなんて思わなかった。ここはお一人様の外国女性の国だから。

It didn’t take me long after I began living in Japan to notice a trend. Many of the male ALTs around me were dating Japanese women, while most of the female ALTs remained single. This phenomenon seemed strange to me, so I went to my trusty friend Google for an explanation. It seemed like a lot of foreign women living in Japan were single and avid bloggers. They all had various theories for the occurrence, most of which placed the blame on the current trend in Japanese society for guys to be more passive, and or seemingly uninterested in dating foreigners. I have several theories of my own which I won’t go into, but after four and a half years of enjoying the single life, against the odds, I fell into the world of dating.

あるトレンドを日本に来てすぐ気づいた。日本女性と付き合い始めた男性のALTが多いけど、女性のALTのほどんどはお一人様のまま。このトレンドが不思議だと思って、グーグルで調べてみた。日本にいる外国女性は独身が多く、ブログを書いている人が多いようだった。草食系の日本男性が多いとか、外国人に興味がないとか、それぞれの説があった。私も色んな考えがあるけど、今は別のことについて書きたい。4年間半お一人様の生活を楽しんで来た私、ついに彼氏が出来た。

Honestly though, it doesn’t really feel like I am dating a Japanese guy. My boyfriend lived in Australia for two years, then New Zealand for a year, and brags that he is part Aussie. On top of that, I am not your average Aussie girl. I have been living in Japan for quite a while now, and spend most of my time shocking people with how “Japanese” I am. Nevertheless, we are still an international couple, who are sure to come across some speed bumps along the way.

正直に言ったら、日本人と付き合っている感じがしない。彼はオーストラリアで2年間、ニュージーランドで1年間、ワーキングホリデイに行ったから、自分は半分オージーだと自慢している。さらに、私も私自身が100%オージーだと思わない。日本に長く住んでいるからか、私の日本人っぽさを見ると日本人がよくビックリする。と言っても、国際カップルには違いないから、難しい時もあるだろう。

While trying to unravel the mystery of the single foreign women in Japan, I stumbled across various blogs written by foreign woman who were dating a j-boy. They wrote a lot about the cultural differences they came across when dating Japanese guys. For the most part, I was prepared for the worst; everything from communication problems to cultural differences, such as the division of household chores, etc. Most of these warnings turned out to be exaggerated or non-applicable to my relationship, which prompted me to write about my experiences so far. If nothing else, I want to convey that international relationships don’t have to be so complicated; we are all just people after all.

お一人様の外国人女性が多い謎を調べていた時、日本人と付き合っている女性のブログもいくつか見つけた。文化の違いについて書いてあるブログもあった。コミュニケーションの困難さや文化の違い等のいろいろな問題を乗り越えないといけない心の準備が出来た。でも、結局大げさなことや私には関係ないことが多かったから、自分の今までの経験を書こうと思った。せめて国際恋愛がそんなに難しいものじゃないと伝えられたらいいなぁと思った。同じ人間同士だから。

Let me start by busting a few of the myths that I read about online.

まず、インターネットで読んだけど、実はちょっと違うことを紹介したいと思う。

Myth number 1 – Relationships start with a “confession”

My high school students and numerous Japanese dramas had led me to believe that you cannot truly date someone until one of you has ‘confessed’ your love. In the traditional dating scene of Japan, a couple would go on a few ‘PG dates’ before the confession, but most of the getting to know each other, the holding hands, hugging, kissing, and ‘real’ dating happed after the confession. This pattern naturally results in some pretty short relationships, because how do you know if you like a guy before the first kiss? Of course, the dating scene is changing slowly, and it is absurd to generalize an entire culture, but this is the image I had before I met my boyfriend. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to deal with all the guess work and politics of confessions. Our relationship started much like a relationship in western countries. We went out on dates, got to know each other, and slowly fell in love. We waited until we were ready to say “I like you.”

一つ目、恋愛関係が告白から始まる。

誰かが愛の告白しないと付き合いが初めないことは私の生徒と日本のドラマから学んだことだ。昔はそうだったみたい。告白する前、23PGデート(キス、ハッグ、等はなし)に行って、その後はカップルになってお互いのことについて知っていく(いわれる本当のデート)。ファーストキスをする前、相手のことを何も知らないから、当然このやり方だと短い付き合いもかなりある。もちろん、このやり方がだんだん変わってきているし、みんなが同じようにしているわけがないけど、彼氏と付き合う前は、このイメージを持っていた。でも、相手の気持ちが分かりにくい状態、そして、いわゆる「告白のルール」に乗っ取る必要がなくてよかった。西洋で経験した関係とほぼ同じだった。デートに行って、お互いに知り合って、だんだん好きになってきた。「好きです」と言うのは心の底から言えるようになるまで待った。

Myth number 2 – You will have to make the first move. Japanese guys are too shy!

The second thing that probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but did anyways was how not-shy my boyfriend is. He initiated everything. He approached me, asked for my phone number, invited me on a date, the works. To be fair, he is the first person I have met in 4 years who had the balls (personality?) to do this, so perhaps it is justifiable to say he is rare. He also speaks his mind, whether it upsets people or not, which is somewhat unusual in Japan. So ladies, we don’t always have to be the first person to make a move!

二つ目、自分から行かないといけない。日本男性がシャイだから。

驚くべきことじゃないかもしれないけど、それでも彼氏が全然シャイじゃないことに驚いた。全部彼氏からだった。声をかけられて、ライン交換を聞かれて、デートに誘われて、全て!というか、4年半の間こういうことは初めてだったから、珍しい人と言ってもいいかも。周りを気にせず、自分の意見をちゃんと言える人。だから、レディース、自分から行かない限り彼氏が出来ないなんてことはない!

Myth number 3 – meeting the parents is serious.

Meeting your boyfriends parents means you guys are “serious”, as in seriously about to get engaged and have babies. This is another myth busted. My boyfriend’s mother came to see him when we had been dating for only about two months and we went out to dinner together. It was a little awkward, because his mother is quite shy, as am I, but we made it work. Thankfully his mother’s friend was with her, and she did enough talking for all of us. The classic Japanese moment was at the end of the night when his mother (and her friend) said “musuko yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” If you don’t speak Japanese, this might be a little difficult to understand because it is very culturally based, but you could roughly translate it to “please continue to get along well with my son”.

3つ目、両親に紹介してくれたら、本気だ。

両親に紹介してくれたら、もうすぐ結婚するという意味もあると聞いたけど、実は違った。付き合って2か月後、彼氏のお母さんが宮崎に旅行に来た時、一緒に晩ご飯を食べに行った。お母さんも私もちょっとシャイで話があまり出来なかったけど、なんとかなった。お喋りが好きなお母さんの友達も一緒に行ったから、おとなしい二人の分まで話してくれた。晩ご飯を食べた後、予想通り「息子よろしくお願いします」と言われた!日本の文化に関係があるから、日本語が話せない人にはわからないかもしれないけど、「息子と仲良くしてください」と訳すことも出来る。

On the other hand, there are a lot of things that I read about that turned out to be true.

一方、その通りだったことも沢山あった。

Fact 1 – You will get stared at, like a lot.

International couples are still rare in Japan, especially in country Japan, and especially Japanese-male foreign-female couples. There will be sometimes when you will feel like a circus animal on display. At least you have each other!

事実1、よく見られる。

国際カップルが日本ではまだまだ珍しい。特に田舎に住んでいる日本人男性と外国人女性のカップルだ。サーカスの動物の気持ちが理解できるぐらい、みんなに見られている時もあるだろう。でも、一人じゃないから、二人で乗り越えることが出来る。

Fact 2 – Communication is vital.

This really goes without saying. Every relationship requires communication between the two parties. If language is a problem, you will need patience and understanding, and a lot of it. A willingness to learn each other’s language will also help by sharing the burden. It can be stressful if one person has to speak in their second language for long periods of time.

事実2、コミュニケーションは大事だ。

言う必要がないかもしれない。人間関係に必要なことだから。言語の壁があれば、忍耐と理解が沢山要る。お互いの言語を勉強する気があった方が負担を分け合える。一人だけ第2言語でずっと話すのはストレスになることもあるから。

Fact 3 – Jobs, visas, and bureaucracy will play a vital role in your future life plans. 

I am just starting to realise the extent to which this is going to affect our lives. Will we live in my country or his? Where can we both find jobs that interest us? How high do we have to jump to get a visa? The list of questions gets longer and longer each day. Some people have suggested that it would be easier just to get married, but that in itself is a mission. The process for international marriages and partner visas is so complicated that you can hire an agent to do it for you, for a small fortune of course. It is said that the stress of the process is enough to break some relationships. Hopefully ours is strong enough to make it!

事実3-仕事やビザや官僚等、二人の人生に大きい影響を与える。

どれほど影響を与えるのか今気付き始めたところ。彼の国か私の国に住もうか?二人とも好きな仕事ができるのはどこ?ビザをもらうため、何をすればいい?質問がだんだん増えていく。結婚すれば、楽になろという案も聞いたけど、それでも難しい。国際結婚とパートナービザの手続きは代理を雇うことがあるほど、複雑なことだ。めちゃ高くつくし。難しすぎて、結局別れるカップルも結構いるらしい。私たちはうまくいけたらいいね。

Both of us will admit that it would probably be a lot easier to date someone from our own culture/society. We have spoken about it a few times, especially after having a disagreement, or not being able to express our feelings due to language barriers. However, both of us would not exchange this for anything. Who knows what the future will hold, but for now, we are doing alright.  

二人とも自分の国の人と付き合った方が楽だと認めている。特に喧嘩した後とか、自分の気持ちをうまく伝えられなかった時とか、何回も話したことがある。しかし、二人ともかけがえのない経験だと思っている。将来はどうなるか分からないけど、今のところ、いい感じだ。

I told my Japanese grandmother about the latest turn of events. She wanted to hear all about him. She asked me when we are getting married and having children. I guess she’s forgotten about her previous advice. Grandmothers are the same in every country!

彼氏の話をジャパニーズばあちゃんにもした。すごく喜んでくれた。「いつ結婚するの」とも聞かれた。自分のアドバイスを忘れたみたいだね。おばあちゃんはどこの国でも同じ!
We played tourists for the day at Saito Burial Mounds

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