It's an all-too-familiar story: On the romantic front, foreign ladies living in Japan have it bad while the guys do unbelievably well. For every woman who complains about Japanese men's aloofness and lack of communication skills, there is a man who boasts about all the local chicks he's had.

But is it really so? Apparently the foreign women's situation is not all that bad — at least not according to Caroline Pover's recently published "Love with a Western Woman: A Guide for Japanese Men," in which she taps the knowledge of a bevy of foreign females who have found their almond-eyed Prince Charmings. But what about the other side of the story? Is Japan really the foreign guy's paradise on Earth that some would have you believe?

According to the received wisdom, just being a foreigner — especially (but not only) a tall, white Caucasian — is a guarantee of success in itself. Never mind if the guy in question is a dork who has never scored on his home turf; once in Japan he is transformed into the proverbial Charisma Man, or so the story goes. So how come we so often hear of relationships gone sour, divorce and Japanese women "kidnapping" their children and fleeing those supposedly perfect marriages?