A couple nights ago I was at a party and ended up in the corner with my fiancé (Japanese) and five of his other friends. Since I’m in the process on writing a book about Japanese interracial relationships, I started picking the brains of the other five men. Let’s call them A, B, C, D, and E (I really hate mentioning people on my blog. It makes me nervous). This post stemmed off an earlier discussion in the Interracial dating in Japan: Who is dating who.
All of the men I talked to go to Akita International School, a new college in Japan that has been gaining fame. With only around 30% of the students actually graduating on time, a rigorous course catalog (and classes that put other Japanese universities to shame), and a mandatory 1 year study abroad requirement, AIU is an interesting school. I love it here.
I wanted to see if going to AIU made Japanese men more or less liberal about dating foreigners. So in the midst of a drinking party (people are always more ‘chatty’ when in a party setting), I pulled a couple of the guys aside and started asking questions. You know, for fun. I asked three questions relating to dating foreigners while abroad (since all three of them had done a year abroad in either America or Norway).
Did you date while you were abroad?
A-D hadn’t dated anyone abroad. They didn’t go on a single date while outside of Japan. While E had, in fact, dated someone while he was abroad, he dated another one of the Japanese girls from his university who was studying abroad at the same school.
When I asked why, a couple gave answers like “I tried, but no one was interested” or “I didn’t find any cute, American girls” or “American girls are too, what’s the word, scary?”
“Yes!” Ryosuke jumped in. “I dated. I dated you! And you’re not too scary!” Ryosuke loves to be present in these kinds of conversations.
Would you ever date a foreign girl?
A and C said “probably not.”
D and E said “yes.”
B called across to the room to one of the other foreign girls at the party and asked “Hey, do you want to date me? Let’s date!”
So far, I found this interesting. In my experience, Japanese men either really want to date a foreign girl, or really do NOT want to date a foreign girl. So far, all the men at AIU seemed very liberal with their responses. Rather than an overwhelming “I would cut off my left arm to be able to date an American girl” or “Ew, why would I want to date that?” The answers seemed much more… varying.
Would you ever marry a foreigner?
Because of the liberal responses in the first question, I was expecting a couple “Maybe”s in this answer. No such luck. Aside from Ryosuke, all five of the men said “No” unconditionally. When I asked what would happen if they were dating a foreign girl and it came time for marriage, B (the one who suggested dating a girl at the party) said “We would probably break up.”
C said “Foreign women are fun to date, but not to marry.”
B also said, “My family would not be ok with me marrying a white girl. I think.”
The other three men expressed similar concerns. Dating a foreigner is fine, but marriage is another boat. Marriage is eternal. It’s more than just feelings. Will she be a good mother? Can she cook? Can she communicate with my parents? Is she scary?
While this initially surprised me (I was hopeful, since all of them had said they would consider dating a foreigner), I can understand. I have heard similar sentiments from foreign women in Japan dating Japanese men.
One of the women I had mentioned in an earlier post about cultural differences in Japan: Fighting, was dumped not because her Japanese boyfriend didn’t like her (he still did love her, after the break-up) but because he “couldn’t see [himself] marrying her.” She was girlfriend material, not wife material.