Love and marriage in Japan

Well, dating and of

course marriage has its moments

good and bad but does….

…  the culture of the person you`re dating/marrying make it even more work?  Respect and love between the two people involved is the most important but cultural differences have to be taken into account and adapted to from the start to make it easier.

Why am I talking about this?  Well I read an article reviewing this book which gives advice to Japanese men on how to date western women.    A bit of a strange one and I wonder how many Japanese men will take a look at it or even buy it.   The author runs a certain website which helps foreign women find their feet when they arrive in Japan and help them network and find friends while they`re there.  She also has a book with all this information and advice.  The wordplay in the name of the site /book itself is what interested me and made me want to browse the site.   Anyone who knows the site will know what I`m talking about.

A few examples of what is in the book was available in a separate article and some of them were amusing enough and quite relevant.   Some were a bit `hmmmm don`t know about that now`.

One I appreciated was telling Japanese men that they don`t have to be able to speak English to approach a western woman (who might not be a native speaker anyway – that`s my little addition to that), and that they should just speak Japanese.  The woman will most likely have some Japanese and if anything she`ll appreciate not being made feel like she`s expected to give a free English/(other language) lesson.   Another point related to this was telling them not to be shy.   She says that Japanese men should not be `afraid` of western women (inverted commas are mine and of course she may be jesting).

What I say:  True, we are approachable and friendly unless you`re creepy or make us uncomfortable in some way, in which case we have every right to decline conversation (and move away slowly or at a speed which is at our discretion – it depends on the scale of wierdness and where you are – in a public place with lots of people or not).   Generally though, we`re not aliens (though according to our `alien registration cards` we are haha).    About her `fear` idea which, like I said she might be saying it in jest:  I briefly touched on the idea before of the idea of Japanese men being afraid of western women before and how strange an assumption that was to make (at least two of my foreign colleagues in Japan said this to me and they weren`t jesting).

Another example is telling Japanese men not to order on behalf of the woman he`s with, in a restaurant.  It`s clearly controlling behaviour.   I think she, or women she has spoken to, may have had this experience with someone before so she`s letting Japanese guys know, on behalf to the women she has surveyed, that it`s not acceptable from them either.

My reaction: This is spot-on of course.  I`d hate someone to order on my behalf whether or not I can read the menu (and of course I can but I`d just pick something out randomly if I couldn`t) but there are men in every culture/country who order for their wives/girlfriends/dates so it`s not just a Japanese thing, if they even do it and there probably are men somewhere in Japan who like to do this – who knows.  That would make me run a mile.

A final one for this post is giving a list of Japanese men `we` all love*, we being western women.

What I thought: I recognised about 4 or 5 names and that was it.     But to say `we` was annoying as if she and the western women currently in Japan (who she did survey but still…) represent `all` western women out there who all have different tastes in men.   It also depends on what your concept of western is because Australia isn`t in the west but women from there are considered, for the purposes of this survey, to be western.  Similarly, one woman who was from Russia replied in a comment that she didn`t consider herself `western`.

There are more examples (of which some are on the ball and some are not) but it depends very much on the people involved and what they are looking for in a person.   Just like any country in the world.  As long as a woman shows respect for herself, she`ll be able to find a man who respects her back.  Dump him if he`s not showing signs of doing so.  So I wonder again if this book will fly off the bookshelves or at least if Japanese men will swap their habit of going into convenience stores to read from a certain kind of magazine, and slip into a bookstore and browse through this book instead.

*Some of the men were not that special but I agreed with a few (and thought she left out a few more possibilities).  I also see that she could have meant love in a general term as in they`re great characters (which perhaps explains the inclusion of some samurai character in a novel – or from real life I can`t remember – from centuries ago).  Even so, the point about generalising still applies.

By the way, speaking of this list, there are two actors on it who are soon to appear in a samurai flick with Keanu Reeves.  One of these men is Tadanobu Asano who starred in Mongol (also had a small part in Zatoichi and he must be in a lot of other stuff) and who I mentioned in a previous post about certain Japanese men being `shibui`.    The other is Hiroyuki Sanada, who is in one of my favourite films featuring samurai (only he doesn`t quite like the fighting aspect of being a samurai which he is forced to take on as the film rolls on, being devoted to his two young daughters instead and wanting to go home to them every day after work- awwww isn`t that lovely).    They both deserve to be on this list.   So anyway, I saw a photo of these two actors and Keanu Reeves in some promotional shoot for it and Sanada San`s face looks a bit ….. stretched shall I say.  Like he`s had a bit of botox or something.  Now I  really hope not because he`s actually a guy who would not be harmed by a few wrinkles.   At that age you expect wrinkles not stretched faces.  So don`t do it Sanada – you`ll ruin a very fine face if you start with that nonsense.   Asano on the other hand looked very handsome as usual but he`s a good few years younger than Sanada I think.  Hopefully he won`t go down the botox route either.

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