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I’ve been in the dating scene for 10 years now. A decade of dating…

When you’ve been doing something for so long, for example, eating pizza for 10 years, then you know what you need to enjoy it to the fullest. For example, for me to enjoy eating pizza, I need a crispy pizza crust specially made in the brick oven. I’ve eaten pizza in many places, authentic Italian pizza that I ate in Rome, big fat cheesey chicago pizza, late-night NYC pizza in the ABC street, Shakey’s all you can eat pizza in Tokyo, pizza in the university cafeteria… but I know that I need certain things to enjoy a slice of pizza: crispy crust, tabasco, cheesy mozerella cheese, glass of Chile red wine or a bottle of heinekken.

Just like that, I have my basic necessities for me to enjoy dating scenes…. and most of them were not found in the Tokyo Meet Market, unfortunately.

1. a great ab

Everyone loves guys with great abs… right? When I was living in the US, my girlfriends and I would sit together in brunch talking about how much we love beautiful toned men’s body – especially the abs.

I used to enjoy having a glimpse of the guys in the gym walking around with their proud 6 packs… Every time I go into Abercrombie store, I would secretly be hoping to catch a glimpse of great abs of the Abercrombie boys… I still watch Usher’s music video to admire his abs… Dancing in a late night under ground club, feeling his solid rock abs against my back was just so yummy!

Well, not here. Japanese men don’t have the urge to tone their body, work out on their abdominal or their arms. It is more preferred to be slim and skinny than to be tough and mascular. You rarely see Japanese men with good body and NEVER with great abs.

(Japanese) men want to be slender, vulnerable and protected. Young males between the ages of 18 and 30 make up the slimmest segment of the population and the ideal fashion weight as decreed by the apparel industry is 57 kilograms, or about 125 pounds, for a height of 175 centimeters, or 5 feet 8 inches. Many men try to adhere to that figure and some claim they want to be even skinnier.” – By Kaori Shoji, International Herald Tribune

Oh How I miss the great abs!

2. Dancing

Dancing has always been an important part of mating in various human societies. Dance is an important  form of nonverbal communication between humans, and is also performed by other animals to build mutual attraction. When 2 people move their body together to the music, it is instantly recognizable if there is mutual attraction or not. And if there is, then dance can build on that attraction and eventually develop strong desire. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about! 

You go to a club on a Saturday night with your friends, you get on the dance floor feeling sexy and beautiful, dancing to the music sipping cosmopolitan, laughing with your friends, then you see him. He sees you. He comes over with a smile and asks you to dance together. You smile at your friends who are encouraging you to go, and you take his hand and dance together. And you move your body together to the beats and he’s looking at you with a smile, and you look up into his eyes and…

Well… there’s none of that in TMM. I mean, there is. But it’s only for “those-clubbing-people” which is just a small percentage of people who repeatedly go to the club every weekend and it’s not part of a normal social culture. Meeting people in club is not a norm, people actually look at you weird when you tell them you met your bf in a club. Dancing culture in Japan is marginal, here is all about sitting in a restaurant together with group of friends-of-friends (gokon) and converse together.

3. Kiss and tell

Once  you are 20-something, have a career and start thinking “may be it’s time to be serious and look for a boyfriend,” and you start hanging out with similar friends who want “serious” then forget about kiss and tell… at least in Tokyo. People get all serious and focused on eachother’s career, salary, and background. They are more attracted to the resume of eachother than the physical attraction itself.

And once your interest is focused on the resume of the guys, there is no more accidental hook-ups or unexpected passionate kiss. I have NEVER EVER EVER heard of anybody ending the night after gokon with a kiss. NO, it does not happen. Ending the night with text message “tonight was fun, I want to take you out for a dinner sometime” is the most dramatic story I have ever heard of.

The closest thing to konkatsu, as the word itself already implies, is job hunting. You do not sexually harass the applicants who want to enter the company, right? When you are just evaluating the candidates based on the resume, you are just looking at the resume. Once you kiss someone or rush into any action, then that means you have made the deal with him. Everyone is so careful of making deals in Tokyo Meet Market — so no kiss and tell.

4. Compliments

Stereotype is right. Japanese people are not expressive. I am always reminded of that every time I go to the movie theater to watch movies and everyone would just silently watch the whole movie without laughing /crapping their hands/cursing/or crying. They would sit quietly without making any sound… whatever Jim Carrey does, no mater what Shrek says to Donkey, and even if Leonardo Dicaprio Romeo dies tragically leaving Juliet desperately alone.

The same goes for Japanese guys who see a amazingly beautiful woman with charm, wit, and humor. They would just stand there in a same way ugly Betty is standing there. They just cannot compliment, but they love compliments. Before he would compliment Angelina Jolie’s beauty, he would expect Angelina to compliment on his… well… his career or academic background or his new Paul Smith PC bag. Then, may be then, he would say “thanks, you are not so bad yourself”

5. Eye contacts

Out of the 5 things I listed, THIS is the thing I missed the most.

How come Japanese people are unaware of The Power of communicating with eye contact. Are they so shy that they cannot look at eachother in the eyes? Do they not know that sharing extended eye contact produces powerful mojo for a couple?

I was once told that it is actual impolite to look at people in the eyes in Japan. If you are talking to your boss, or if you are interviewing for your job and talk to the interviewer, then you should have your eyes focused on the knot of the tie. Do not look into the eyes, it’s rude. So may be that’s why the guys look at everything but my eyes when they are talking to me.

But I still believe, and am sure of it, that eye contact is the most powerful means to communicate affection, not the sms. And it was finally the man with a beautiful pair of dark, wet, passionate sparkly eyes who looked at me and told me that he is so lucky to have found me… (yes… definitely not Japanese)

I knew I could happily leave TMM behind without any regret.

With Nikujaga,  you have proved your cooking skill that matches a mother’s skill. Next is a recipe that let you show off your cuteness and playfulness. The golden recipe for cutendss is Omurice.

Omurice (omelet and rice) is a contemporary Japanese dish of seasoned fried rice, wrapped inside an omelet. Omurice was invented in Japan, and it became a popular dish cooked at home. The popularity of omurice has recently been revived due to its popularity in maid cafe. A maid cafe typically serves Omurice with ketchup drawing services by a maid. The customer can request the maid to draw their favorite word or motif on the omelette rice. This is recipe which lets you show off your cooking skill and artistic skill at the same time!

Omurice recipe:

Ingredients (serves 2) :

  • 2 cups steamed Japanese rice
  • 1/4 lb. chicken breast
  • 1/2 green peppers, chopped
  • 3 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 3 Tbsp. ketchup
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 eggs


  1. Cook steamed rice
  2. Cut the ingredients:
    • Cut chicken into small pieces
    • Chop green pepper and onion
    • Slice mushrooms thinly
  3. Stir-fry the ingredients:
    • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet and saute chicken
    • Add onion, mushrooms, and green pepper in the skillet and saute together until softened
    • Add steamed rice in the pan and stir-fry together
  4. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Stop the heat and add ketchup and mix well
  5. Set the seasoned rice aside
  6. Heat 1 tsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet
  7. Beat two eggs in a small bowl and pour the egg in the skillet. Quickly spread the egg and make a round omelet
  8. Place 1/4 of the seasoned rice in the middle of the omelet and fold top and bottom sides of omelet over the rice
  9. Cover the frying pan with a plate and turn them over to place the omerice in the plate
  10. Repeat this process to make four omelet rice
  11. Draw cute cartoon or write a cute message with ketchup on top of omurice just before serving
Omurice with sweet message saying "Nice job, a long day at work"

Omurice with sweet message saying "Nice job, a long day at work"

“If you want to win the guys’ heart, grab his stomach first”

That’s what Japanese say, that if you show him how well you cook and if you win his stomach, then he will fall in love with you and marry you.You don’t have to cook like a chef from a five star restaurant. What Japanese men look for on the dinner table is not restaurant quality food, but a comfort food that reminds them of their mother’s food.

So what is the golden recipe to win his heart? It’s nikujaga, (meaning meat-potato), a Japanese dish of meat, potatoes and onion stewed in sweetened soy sauce. Nikujaga may not seem typically Japanese since the main ingredients niku (meat) and jagaimo (potatoes) are historically not traditional Japanese foodstuffs. But Nikujaga is a popular meal especially at home,  it is a typical “mother’s taste” meal. The taste of Nikujaga may surprise you because of the ingredients sugar and soya sauce, but I am sure that the surprise will be a positive one, and you will be even more surprised by how happy Japanese men will react to your delicious nikujaga.

Nikujaga Recipe:


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound beef (thinly sliced or cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 2 cups potatoes
  • 1 carrot (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 cups dashi (or water or beef stock)
  • 3 tablespoons soy
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 green onion (sliced)
  • shichimi togarashi to taste (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Add the beef and brown on all sides
  3. Add the onion, squash and carrot and saute for 5 minutes
  4. Add the dashi, soy, sugar, sake and mirin, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender
  5. Serve on a plate, smile at him, and tell him you tried your best to recreate your mother’s flavor

Nikujaga 500


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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!! 10 years ago
  • Ate a bowl of toshomen for lunch, super delicious! Check it out: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g314410/ 10 years ago
  • getting warmer in Tokyo! The spring is just around the corner which means... love in the air! 10 years ago