Steve McClure on the ins and outs of online dating between foreign men and Japanese women
A THIRTY SOMETHING FEMALE FRIEND of mine recently decided to get back into the dating game after breaking up with her boyfriend. A generation ago, she would have hit the singles bars. Instead, she’s taking her search for Mr. Right online by signing up with dating websites catering to lonely souls like her.
My friend happens to be Japanese. And judging from the many websites offering to make matches between foreign men and Japanese women, she’ll soon be deluged with pledges of undying love from foreign men for whom the females of these islands are the quintessence of feminine charm and beauty. The stereotypes and cultural clichés of “Madame Butterfly” and Bachelor’s Japan appear to be alive and well.
Leaving aside the vexed question of why those seeking true love should circumscribe their search to specific ethnicities or nationalities, a Google search for “Japan dating sites” yields page after page of results. They range from the serious to the scabrous and salacious. The latter category includes http://erolin. net, which provides English language information about “dates” with “escorts,” as well as information about “gaijin welcome adult stores in Japan.”
Here are some other representative samples of love in the age of cyberia:
Soulmates Japan (www.soulmatesjapan. com) seems to be on the up and up. The profiles of lonely hearts of both sexes have the ring of sincerity which is always so hard to fake. And the photos on display show people who look reassuringly (or perhaps depressingly, depending on what you’re looking for) ordinary.
The bilingual site goes out of its way to caution users about the pitfalls of seeking romance on the internet: don’t ever send money to people you meet online, don’t give out too much private information, and arrange to meet in a public place the first time. The site also helpfully warns users to be on guard against married miscreants. “It’s unfortunate, but some married people do use online dating services and try to hide the fact they are married,” Soulmates’ operators state in the About Us section. “Of course they may have legitimate reasons for using the site but often they are just looking for some fun on the side.” Shocking, but true, I suppose. Caveat amator, after all.
JapanCupid.com is another slick looking website that comes up when you do a search for Japanese dating portals. It has a pleasant, friendly feel, in contrast to the somewhat clinical vibe of Soulmates. Some of the photos verge on the prurient one wonders what sort of “friend” a young lady attired in a maid costume is seeking, for example but the site looks legit on the whole.
Then there are sites like Japan Woman Dating (www.japanwomendating.asia), which features photos of attractive young women who, despite the website’s name, appear to be Chinese. I signed up with the site (using a fake name), and found myself directed to the chat section of website AsianBeauties.com, which “shows all those beautiful Orient women currently online and ready to Live Chat” (no necrophiliacs, please). The site sorts available chatters according to the helpful but somewhat subjective criterion “beautiful ladies first.”
“I am kind mind and happy and simple girl and i like to enjoy life in the right way which i want to found someone can share the beautiful life with me together,” writes a lovely looking young lady named Qian. “I like western man and i like the way they treat ladies.” By the time you read this, Qian will presumably have been snapped up by the Western man or men of her dreams.
Here in Tokyo, there’s always Metropolis magazine’s personals section, which like the rest of the mag, can be accessed online (http://classifieds.metropolis.co.jp/ category/personals). Most people here are looking for marriage partners, although one Japanese woman recently placed an ad that lends new meaning to the phrase “affairs of the heart:” “Seeking sincere, gentle, and well educated American medical doctor (cardiologist is preferred) to understand my condition and give me advice for long term friendship.” One hopes her efforts to find true love and sound medical advice in one handy package are not in vein.
Steve McClure publishes the online music industry newsletter McClureMusic.com. He has lived in Tokyo since 1985.