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Based on survey conducted for 20,000 Japanese women on Niko-Niko-dohga (smiley movie)…

What are the signs you send to the object of your affection?

  1. Complement him (41.1%)
  2. Ask if he has a girlfriend (28.7%)
  3. Casual physical touch (16.6%)
  4. Eye contact (7.2%)
  5. Insert hearts in text messages (7.2%)

Girls seem to have various strategies for each sign. For example, girls who complement guys have the strategy to make him feel confident and appreciated, and then find common interest so that he has confidence to ask them out. Women who find out that the guys have girlfriend don’t give up on them either. They continue to build strong relationship, based on casual friendship, but when he is tired and shows doubts in his relationship they will sneak into his heart and win him over! whoa! girl power!

I’m surprised eye contact is not among the top 3. For me, it’s definitely eye contact. Make eye contact with the person you are interested in, then look away. But immediately after look back, hold your eye contact, and then smile.  spark!! Whether in a club scene or over a friendly casual dinner parties, I’m sure this will work. Even if he doesn’t come talk to you straight away, he will come talk to you eventually 😉

What are the signs you receive from guys who like you?

  1. “I feel comfortable when I’m with you” (52.8%)
  2. “I dreamed about you lastnight” (13.6%)
  3. “You smell good!” (13.0%)
  4. “I bet you get so many guys” (12.7%)
  5. “Have you changed your hairstyle lately?” (7.9%)

Not so surprised here! I don’t see much cultural difference between what the guys say to the girls they like. I think I’ve heard most of the lines up here from guys that I’ve dated from different countries. Not a pickup lines, but more like guys who are trying to start something with girls they already know they like!

Signs you send to let them know you are not interested/it’s over

  1. Do not reply to his text messages (40.5%)
  2. Keep telling him you are busy (36.9%)
  3. Talk about other guys (9.9%)
  4. Cancel on date at the last minute (7.3%)
  5. Look sloppy for dates with him (5.4%)

Other strategies include purposely making him angry to make him hate me and telling him straight up to go back to just being friends. Telling him straight up is very uncommon in Japan though. Japanese people are generally not expressive about emotions, even more so with negative feelings so they would avoid to express negative feelings under any situation. The ever so famous “It’s not you, it’s me. I’m in this stage of life where I have to concentrate on my life” or the break up talk starting with “This is not working… We need to talk” don’t really come up in Japanese love culture.

Rather, “it’s over” is sent through subtle signs in text messages and amount of make up a girl wears for dates… so difficult to read the signs! No wonder everyone is stressed interpreting what he/she means by doing so and so. No wonder they spend hours interpreting eachothers text messages and writing perfected text messages to their loved ones!

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Japanese people love to categorize people.

Sado vs. Maso, horoscopes, blood types, Chinese astrology, herbivorous vs. carnivorous, gal-type vs. onee-type (hip or princess), Kikokushijo vs. Jun-Japanese … it’s pretty much because if we don’t categorize ourselves, we are all the same homogeneous Japanese race with same height, same hair color, all from middle classed and mostly with some job and some money.

So we classify people to remember that we are all different. I have been writing about some of the category of Japanese boys, but it seems they just keep coming! So I made a new page to sum up the 8 different types of Japanese boys observed and reported by Momoko Shirakawa in the famous love consulting online-guide on Ozmall. Ozmall is a internet-based magaine targeted 20-30 something business girls.

So check out the 8 types of Japanese boys here! J-boys guide

We never really say I love you.

It’s true. We don’t say I love you to lovers, friends, and even family. I don’t even say it. I say it sometimes to may parents in English, but I never say I love you in Japanese to my parents. Love is not a everyday word in Japanese.

Instead,the closest thing to Love is Daisuki – lots of  likes or I like it a lot. This is the closest to love. This is the most common way to express your love for… cocktails, movies, fashion brand, friends, boyfriends too. While “Aishiteru” the formal way to say I love you is rarely used. I guess it sounds too formal, very serious. It does not appear in every day scenes, only in dramatic occasions… like… moment before an old man is dying, he tells his wife “Aishiteru”, a crying man to his angry girlfriend about to leave him for better life, says “Aishiteru”, a woman who sees her ex-lover from 20 years ago tells him “Aishiteta” (I used to love you)… You see, it’s so formal and so powerful it’s almost saved to be used as a last-resort.

Apparently, this last-resort phrase, “Aishiteru” was voted as the least romantic way to say I love you in the world in a pre-Valentine’s Day survey of language experts…. while “AMOUR”, the French word for love, has been voted the most romantic word followed by “amore”, the Italian word for love, although Italian was named the world’s most romantic language. Italian words also dominated the top places in the list of most romantic words. The survey was conducted by London-based Today Translations which polled over 320 of its linguists.

In the same poll, the firm asked its linguists to pick the least romantic-sounding way to say, “I love you” in any language. The winner was Japan’s “watakushi-wa anata-wo ai shimasu”, ahead of the Welsh “rydw i’n dy garu di” and “qaparha”, which, the firm noted, is Klingon, as spoken in the Star Trek universe. (Reuters)

I don’t know you guys… I’m starting to find Japan to be bit desperate when it comes to romance… I think Japan used to be very romantic when I read Tale of Genji (12th century) or Makurano Soushi (11th century)) or when I see erotic Ukiyoe.  But the contemporary Japanese culture needs a new way to express romantic feeling… well, unless they tell me they’ve got all they need with the smileys and the sms using their cell phones.

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I’m proud to be the first on the internet to introduce the  emerging trend of new type of guys, the girly guys. Otomen (オトメン/乙男) is a pun made of the Japanese word otome (乙女), meaning “young lady” or “mistress”, and the English word “men”. Like the Soshokukei Danshi (Grass-eating boys), the description of Otomen is really very close to what you would imagine to be gay. Otomen is type of guys who like cute sweet things traditionally thought to be girls’ taste. Pastel colors, flowers, sweets, chocolates and cakes, teddy bears and bunny rabbits, to cooking, sewing, and all the lovely things. However, they are straight in their sexual preference. Otomen is a straight man with feminine taste and sensitive mind.

Originally, the word Otomen was first popularized by a comic book Otomen. It became such a hit that they even made a TV show on the life of Otomen, Asuka Masamune. Here goes the story: Asuka is a badass. He is a tough, cool, 2nd year high school guy who is also a master at kendo. He exudes an aura of manliness that is difficult to deny. .. at least that’s what everyone thinks.  But for Asuka, life is torture, because he can never show the REAL Asuka to the world. While he is phenomenal at kendo, and looks very cool, Asuka’s manly lifestyle is a lie to hide his real self. He actually prefers much more girly things: knitting, cooking, sewing, staffed animals, shoujo manga (girls romance comic), plushies, cute things – he loves them all. When he was a child, this worried his mother very much, as Asuka’s father abandoned the family after declaring he wanted to be a woman. The shock made his mother so ill that Asuka swore to become a more manly man… or at least act like one. So he falls in love, with his classmate, a manly girl who is tough and strong. The rest is a romantic comedy of the couple struggling to get along with gender roles and expectation and with the approval of their classmates and family. (see more on Otomen official page)

However, the trend of otomen did not stop with comic books and TV drama. Well, it actually started from the real phenomenon of guys who are becoming more and more girly in their tastes, hobbies, and action. And since the word Otomen became popularized by the media, it seems the trend of girly men are spreading out the media into the society.

As women are becoming stronger and tougher, men are going the other way around, becoming weaker and softer. With the emergency of strong women to lead the men, men no longer need to lead the society. They can relax and enjoy their life, decorating their apartment, indulging tasty sweets and herbal tea, reading books and day dreaming. The emergence of Otomen is actually welcomed by most women, according to a study conducted by Ozmall. 75% of respondents approved Otomen and would consider Otomen as their potential life partner, mostly because of their expectation for Otomen to support them with their femine side – to take on the traditional female role of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. And they expect to enjoy spend time together with men who can share feminine taste.

What about you? How do you like see your boyfriend wearing a pink sweet PJ cuddling a fluffy teddy bear?

OZmall, a Web-based magazine for women in the 20’s conducted a survey on Tokyo’s working women on the level of their manliness in love life. “Have you felt your manliness you’re your love life? If so, when and how?” 42% of the respondents answered “Yes” and provided some insights in their growing masculinity in love life.

When do you feel that you are becoming masculinized?

  • “I no longer play hard to get”
  • “I don’t sleep in his arms, he sleeps in my arms
  • “I can’t be bothered to send sms to guys”
  • “I no longer feel shame”
  • “I prioritize work to celebrating our anniversary or birthdays”
  • “He says he’s lonely because I’m too busy
  • “When we got in a fight, I confronted him and he started crying
  • “My bf wanted to have a Romantic Christmas together, so I planned the whole day – the restaurant, romantic bar, present, and romantic suite in hotel. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
  • “I ask the guy for number and plan for next date.”
  • “I ask the guys to come home with me
  • “I get frustrated when he can’t decide what to do on our date so I plan for our date. When we go for drive, I print out the map and driving route. I would even chain the tires”
  • “We started dating because I jumped on him
  • “When I spot a cute guy in town, I go up and talk to him”

What are the strategy to approach… or hunt the guys you like?

  • “I invite him out to something that he’s interested in, be it a movie, auto-show, or museum, and when we are alone, I tell him my worries so he gets the idea that he’s someone special for me”
  • “I know I look pretty and outgoing. So I show him my other side – that I can cook” “it depends, but the final blow is definitely… my body”
  • “I make him think that I can’t do anything without him… but I can
  • “My sms are very sweet and cute, contrary to my cool personality”
  • “Pretend to be naïve and virgin. ‘never had a bf!’ I tell the guys to excite them”

Research summary

40% of respondents reported they feel their manliness in their behavior in love life. Manly women actively approach the men of their interest and make him theirs. The research shows 2 types of manly-woman: 1) she has decision making power in the relationship and plans out what to do on dates and hold him in her arms 2) successful career and busy worklife, she concentrates on her life than love life, leaving him lonely. Either way, they are leading their life and relationship with their manliness but on the other hand, what this trend really shows is how men in Tokyo is becoming weaker. The most common strategy to “hunt him” was 1) find out his interest and ask him out on a date, and 2) sleep with him and make him your bf. At times their aggressiveness may scare the men, but may worths it to masculinize yourself a bit to do well in Konkatsu – Ozmall

Masculinization as an insult

I guess ‘masculinize’ is the word the media likes, but can these women be really described with ‘masculinity’? I wonder, if “masculinization of women” is just a necessary move towards gender equality in Japanese society, for women to have more decision making power, in her life, career, and love. Even though Tokyo is quite modern city, this is a society where the traditions and conservative values still exist. Although women are increasingly becoming independent and successful, there is still social pressure on women to be feminine, ultimately get married and have children. At the moment, we haven’t reached real gender equality, real sense of liberation from traditional gender roles yet. But women are in fact, becoming more and more independent, financially stronger, and successful in career. Hence the criticism of  such power women as “masculinized.” ‘Masculinization’ .,.. such an insult! No women in the world wants to be described ‘masculine’ I think this term is not just a joke, it’s actually a criticism of increasing power and independence of women by the Japanese society, mainly lead by weak timid men.

The New buzz word: masuclinized women and girly men

It’s been a bout a year since I first wrote News alart! Increasing population of ‘grass-eating boys’!? Since then, the concept of ‘Soshokukei Danshi’ (grass-eating boys) and Nikushokukei Joshi (meet-eating girls) have spread around Japanese society, in the media, on graphic t-shirts, and all over magazines and daily conversations, the trend for identifying whether one is herbivory or carnivorous has died down.

Now, the new concept for 2010 is Osu-ka: masculinization of women and Joshi-ka: feminization of men.  As the populationg of ‘grass-eating boys’ increases, and as women need to become carnivorous and aggressive, women are increasingly becoming masculinized, explains the media. On the other hand, the ever-so peaceful and timid grass-eating boys enjoy staying at home and decorating their apartment and practice cooking and banking, they are increasingly becoming girly. This gender switch is not only seen in personal life style, but also in the work life and career plans.

As women are increasingly entering the workforce, and gain success in the field of banking, law, consulting, and medicine climbing, the ladder of success, rather than getting married and having kids, women leading life style of traditional single bachelor – or “salary man.” With so much work and responsibility at the office, women these days do not cook at home, they would spend their nights in a pub drinking beer with their female friends or eating delivery pizza, drinking a canned beer in front of TV…. Women are becoming masculinized! (and I’m the first person to report this in English!)

Ramen-noodle, alcohol and house wife

According to an article on “masculinization of Tokyo women” published by Jcast News in December 2009,  60% of working women in the 20’s – 30’s feel they have become masculinized. “I drink alcohol at home alone, don’t mind going for quick dinner at ramen noodle shop alone,  my priority is work before going on dates!” To my horror, 1 in 10 of these women have discovered their facial hair has darkened/increased since the entrance in the workforce.  Hormone imbalance caused by stress is, in deed, masculinizaing working women’s body.

When do you feel ‘masculinized’? – When I sneeze like a middle aged man, When I say ‘That’s why I don’t wanna work with women,’ When I think ‘I want a wife to take care of me,’ I don’t consider myself office lady, I’m a businessman… they say. It also seems ramen and alcohol, for these women are just as basic necessity as they are for Japanese bachelors. Masculinized women have less interest in men and more for ‘wife’: 27% of respondents prioritize work to dating and 1 in 3 respondents identified their wish to have a housewife to take care of her.

How far are we masculinized?

But the masculinization is not just for a laughing a matter. The hormone imbalance caused by stress is actually causing physical masuclinization for some women. It appears 10% of working women aged 25 – 35 are suffering from increased facial hair, especially beard. Even more widely experienced is menstrual disorder and irregular periods. Working women are having more and more physical problems such as backaches and mesntrual disorder, sleeping problems and eating disorder. How to feminize your body to avoid these problems?

A doctor from womens’ clinic says “Get involved in feminine activities. Take flower arrangement classes, bake some cake, dress yourself up, go on dates, cook at home, and feel feminine to stimulate female hormone.” However, despite such severe effects of masculinization, it seems the word “osu-ka” and “joshi-ka” are going to be hot-words of the year.

When I was studying sociology of pop culture, I learned that we listen to the music we most identify ourselves with at the time. Therefore, hit Love songs represents how people think about love and romance.

For me, at the moment, the songs I have been listening the most these days are… According to you – Orianthi, Battle field Jody Sparks, Bad Romance – Lady Gaga… hmm it seems that the Sociologists are right. I think these songs do tell you about how I’m feeling about love and romance these days.

So what kind of love songs are on the Japanese hit charts lately? To be honest, I don’t listen to Japanese pop music at all. I really don’t find Japanese music industry interesting, and I think Japanese people are good at many things but not just good at singing. I’m most turned off by the popularity of huge boy bands and girl bands, but much bigger in size than backstreet boys or NSYNC, there are 10+ boys and girls singing in unison together. They sounds like a horrible school chorus! Well, I guess it’s like any other country, there is the mainstream crap, and there’s the underground awesomeness… but I’ve got no time to discover them because I’m very busy with my favorite bands and DJs from the US, UK, France, and Germany.

Exile: 14 men sing together in unison, so cool!

#2 Hit: Can we go back – Kumi Koda

The song is about a girl wishing to get back with her ex. “Can we go back to the way we used to be? The butterfly has returned now. Can’t we just throw it all out , it’s easy to give up but it shouldn’t stay like this. So back to the way we used to be,” she says things she doesn’t wanna give up on them yet, and make some changes to get back. “Oh can we go back, getting used to losing. I used to be fearless when I was a child, but nothing comes out of losing battle. Baby can we try,” I guess she growing up and has more fears but she really thinks they had something important to give it another try. Hm, nothing surprising here, it’s pretty much like any other after-break-up-wooing-back song. By the way, Kumi Koda would be like… equivalent to Christina Aguilera, as you can see in the below pic (reminds of Christina in Dirty or Fighter), known for her sexy attitude.

#3 Hit song: Always by Miki Nakajima

This is more like  what I know as the typical melancholy over-dramatic Japanese love song. Compared to Kumi Koda’s Can we go back, Always is a melancholy breakup song of a girl being overly nostalgic about her love for her ex. But unlike Can we go back, this girl doesn’t have the guts to ask her ex to be back,she’s just sulking in her room being nostalgic.

“I felt like I could see tomorrow just from your smile. I would probably run to you, even if that means hurting someone. I still miss the warmth of your hand, in the crowded street, we held eachother in silence. Love changes like season, I know that but I thought with you it would different. Good bye – would you forget me, or the nights we dreamed of eternity. Can we still smile together – on the day when we lose eachother. Even if our days were just mistake, it’s ok”

Hm, I don’t know what I think about this love song. I have listened to many more break up songs that has more attitude and stronger message about where we should go from there on. This “Always” song isn’t my style

yep, she's definitely sulking in her bed

#9 Hit: Last Kiss – Choshinsei

Another breakup song, but this one is by a guy… oh, excuse me, it was a band of 6 boys.

“The last kiss was so sudden, I can’t forget you. One more time! I want you back. Just take me back  to the days we were together,  somebody just take me back back back I wanna be back there and kiss kiss once again I miss you. “Can we meet up tonight” I was excited with your sms with no idea until I saw you. Why do you look at me with sad look. You don’t say a word, you are not as usual. With tears in your eyes, you gave me back the pair ring (a pair of rings couples wear casually as sign of being together) you said “I’m sorry and gave me a last kiss.

The last kiss was so sudden, I can’t forget it. One more time! I want you back. Kiss of tears, tasted so sad I can’t forget.  It’s still on my lips. Why, tell me why such sudden Goodbye. No phone call from you since then, it’s so hard to understand. I’m alone lost my precious girl. Can’t forget your love even after some time. It hurts me to thing of you, I realized after breakup, you were lonely, I did not understand, I’m sorry but I want you back one more time”

Excuse me, which one of you was I dating? I forgot!

Lost of break-up and wanna get back with you song on the hit list this month! Time to get back with your ex if you don’t wanna be lonely for Valentine’s day


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What is Tokyo Meet Market?

From the Western perspective, what goes on in the Japanese dating scene is really different and interesting! In this shy nation of Japan, meeting new people is almost institutionalized, dating and romance is littered with conventions that protect people from social awkwardness. What are dating conventions and rules in Japan? How do the shy Japanese people meet new people, develop affection, and express their passion? As I research and answer these question, I will write a real time report of what's going on in the Tokyo dating scene, or the "Tokyo Meet Market" here in this blog. I hope you enjoy my blog and a trip around Tokyo Meet Market with me!

Cherie’s tweets

  • is so sad to go to farewell party of her bestfriend leaving to the US. Another beautiful funny successful girl leaving Tokyo!! 7 years ago
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  • getting warmer in Tokyo! The spring is just around the corner which means... love in the air! 7 years ago