Some excerpts from “Love With a Western Woman: A Guide for Japanese Men,” arranged by chapter:
1. Japanese men and their image
• A lot of the women had assumed you would be geeky, too interested in your work, rather uptight, sexually repressed, and not very respectful of women. And they had somehow got the impression that you were afraid of Western women.
Now gentlemen, this is not a good image to have if you’re interested in attracting Western women; in fact, it’s not a good image to have circulating about if you’re interested in attracting women in general!
• The additional time you spend at work can be a big shock to Western women — going out after work is not necessarily a regular occurrence in our culture.
However, please don’t think that working hard is something that we don’t admire in our partners. Many of us find it quite admirable that Japanese men tend to be so diligent and conscientious, and so loyal to their jobs. In many ways this shows that you are reliable and steady, that you can remain committed even when times are tough — these qualities are very attractive in a potential long-term partner. But a balance needs to be struck.
• I’m not going to suggest that you take up body building, but I am going to suggest that you don’t make any comments about your build in relation to a Western woman’s size. We are generally bigger than Japanese women and while this may be something different you need to get used to, we don’t want to feel that you are not very much enjoying getting used to it!
We are Western women with Western curves; we love your bodies just as they are. Please love ours the way they are too.
• Japanese men that Western women LOVE!: Musashi Miyamoto, Jo Odagiri, Kenichi Matsuyama, Tite Kubo, Shikao Suga, Jun Matsumoto, Yoshiki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Daisuke Nakata, Cornelius, Jake E. Lee, Tadanobu Asano, Takashi Miike, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Hiroyuki Sanada, Joji Kato, Takaaki Ishibashi, Tadao Ando, Kengo Kuma, Junya Watanabe, Akira Kurosawa, all of Arashi, SMAP, Shun Oguri, Razor Ramon, Takenaka Naoto, Beat Takeshi, Shigeki Hosokawa, Ken Takakura, Koichi Sato, Issey Miyake . . . and by far the most popular is Ken Watanabe.
2. Being attractive to us
• The great news is that after spending some time around Japanese men, almost 60 percent of the women I interviewed generally find you to be very attractive. What a relief, considering the bad PR about you that is floating around outside of Japan! And this news should provide a great deal of encouragement to you because you can probably estimate that 2 out of 3 Western women that you might be interested in could be looking upon you very favourably even before they get to know you!
• Western women find the most attractive elements of your appearance to be your skin and hair. Your thick, glossy, dark hair is quite sexy to many of us, and we really like it if you don’t dye it!
And as for your skin — so many women find your smooth, tanned-looking skin to be quite mesmerizing! I still remember very clearly being on a train, many years ago, standing behind a Japanese man who was wearing a suit. The train was quite crowded and he was about 10 cm taller than me, so his neck was at the level of my nose. I could not stop looking at his beautiful skin. I will never forget the urge I had to just lean forward and run my tongue up the back of his neck.
• Pretty high on the list of things we find attractive about you are your eyes. Depending on where we come from, and depending on our own ethnicity, your dark eyes can seem extremely exotic. Many of us are perhaps drawn to you in the same way that you find yourself drawn to us, because we generally look different to you. Lots of women talked about Japanese men’s beautifully shaped eyes as part of what can make you very handsome indeed!
• Not that there is anything wrong with being gay, of course, but you certainly don’t want the woman you fancy thinking you are interested in men more than you are in her! The handbags and pointy shoes look a little too feminine to us, but in general we really like your androgynous, unmacho look.
• Be relaxed and confident when you approach us. Do not be afraid of Western women! You don’t have to approach us using English if you’re not comfortable — many of us speak at least some Japanese and most of us won’t feel like you’re looking for a free English lesson.
Take the initiative and let us know that you like us. If you’re not quite ready to take the initiative, then at least be open and approachable so that we feel comfortable giving you a few signals. And what could be more open than a big friendly smile as you catch our eye?!”
• Understand and respect women, and how about showing admiration for the men you know who already do so? We want to be treated as equals at work and at home, and we don’t want you to be looking at our breasts when you should be looking into our eyes.
We don’t like it when you read porn in public (and most of us aren’t really comfortable with you reading it in private either); this goes hand-in-hand with the whole concept of hostess bars, soaplands, and prostitution, which are completely distasteful to most of us.
• First, please don’t take her to any kind of family restaurant. One woman was actually taken to a Wendy’s — this is not a good start at all. If you do take her to a restaurant, then it should be quite a nice one, and it would be thoughtful to check beforehand to find out whether she is vegetarian. Being vegetarian isn’t understood in most restaurants in Japan, so perhaps going to a specialized restaurant would be a good idea — I’m sure she would appreciate your efforts!
Now, on the topic of food, we like to choose our own food. If you choose for us, then you’re at great risk of being instantly dismissed as someone we won’t be sharing any more meals with — it can make us feel that you want to control us.
• I’m not about to suggest for one minute that you do anything that you’re not comfortable doing, but you do need to be aware that the vast majority of Western women I interviewed were absolutely bewildered to get nothing but a polite “goodbye” at the end of their dates. Only a small percentage of you managed a polite kiss on the cheek, although about the same percentage managed something a bit more passionate that perhaps more closely resembles what a Western woman might expect. (About 20% of dates, on average, ended up in bed, just in case you were wondering. Most of us do not expect sex after a first date nor will we necessarily respond favourably if you suggest it. In fact, it is more likely to put us off you.)
• Well, I asked [the interviewees] outright whether they thought Japanese men had small penises, and half of them said yes, they are smaller than they were used to, and half of them said your penises are no different from other men. So basically your penis is either average or smaller than average. But almost 90 percent of the women said that size didn’t matter.
I think I’ll rephrase that statement just to be extra sure you understand: 90 percent of Western women do not care about penis size. Some women don’t even like bigger penises — they can make sex painful, and where’s the fun in that?
• A few complimentary comments might be all right, but please don’t make a fuss to the point where we feel like a different species. Try not to make the “foreignness” be the thing about us that interests you.
Definitely don’t do what one Japanese man did after I had sex with him: He called a friend on his mobile phone immediately afterward (he was still kneeling there) to say that he had sex with a foreign woman. Needless to say, I did not answer any of his phone calls after that.
• Here’s a quick word about pornographic movies and magazines: I’ll tell you right now that really fantastic sex is nothing like Japanese porn and what most women want or will be fulfilled by is the complete opposite of what Japanese porn portrays. So stop watching it.
• It is very rare in our culture for children to sleep with their parents, and it makes the practicalities of when and where to have sex difficult. Many Western women are willing to follow the Japanese tradition of sleeping together as a family, so you need to be a bit more creative about having sex instead of using sleeping arrangements as an excuse not to have it. You have love hotels! Use them!
• Now come on boys, don’t you all want to put some big smiles on the faces of your Western sweethearts?!”
5. Getting serious
• What we don’t love are the noises you make when you eat. We talked a little bit about this in the dating chapter — please remember that slurping your food at home is something that could really drive her mad! We understand it’s cultural and really don’t want to nag, but it’s very hard to share meals with someone every day when they are eating in a way that in our culture would be considered to be very impolite.
• I am sure you are familiar with the traditional idea of the ‘marriage proposal’ that we have in Western culture, but please don’t feel that you have to conform to this tradition if doesn’t suit your style.”
• “You will get an independent woman who will need her ‘me time,’ girls’ nights, and help with the house chores. My husband loves to jokingly tease me about how ‘a Japanese wife would never do that’ on a lot of things. So just know that you are signing up for something a little different.” — unnamed interviewee
• “You cheat, I rip your balls off.” — interviewee
Caroline Pover’s book is available on Amazon, in bookstores and via the website www.carolinepover.info.