Top 10 Reasons a Japanese Girlfriend Won’t Help Your Japanese

Japanese girls are great for a lot of reasons, I mean, get real, they’re loved world wide because they’re small, cute, wear tiny tiny skirts, and sometimes dress up in school uniforms (even if they’re not in school anymore).  It seems to be a rite of passage for every male exchange student, every JET, and everyone visiting Japan to try to find a Japanese girlfriend when they visit…

Many people even say that “the best way to learn a language is to date someone who speaks it!”  Sorry, but for the sake of your Japanese language skills

Flirting DOESN’T CUT IT!

I assure you, the longer you date a Japanese girl, the less likely you will be able read the rude t-shirt you started wearing to find one!  Why you might ask?  It only makes sense that the more you speak Japanese, the better you get, right? Right?  RIGHT?!

Wrong, and here’s why:

1.  You are lazy

Sure.  At first you might say, “Oh man, I’m going to get so good at kanji, and grammar, and all that stuff now!” and you might even convince your girlfriend to tutor you everyday, but that won’t last. It NEVER does. There are exceptions to the rule, but most of the time you’ve got a lot more “fun and important” things to do with your girlfriend than talk about freaking kanji radicals and grammar points (…at least I HOPE you do).  You’ll also have a lot more “unfun” things to talk about like when her mom is coming to visit or how bad you made the bathroom smell.  In any case, there will be times when you’ll get lazy and just use the easiest words you can think of, even if it’s just English that sounds kind of like Japanese.

2.  You will mix English and Japanese

There are lots of terms for this phenomenon, and it is not limited to just speakers of English and Japanese, but it is the DEVIL!!! This stupid practice, mostly caused by laziness will literally ruin your chances of speaking intelligible Japanese, and probably your girlfriend’s chances of remembering English.  You will create your own little language that no one else really understands, not even you, and that makes for absolutely terrible communication.

Here is a sample conversation that doesn’t make sense:

A.  When do you think the 図書館 is open?

B.  さあ、I don’t know, after dinner you should チェック。

A.  めんどくさいな。

B.  Don’t be a バカ。ほら見て、このサイトで it’s written right here!

A.   そうか。Fine, 夕飯を食べたら I’m gonna go return these 本。

See?  This conversation is wrong in too many ways to  “counto.”

3.  Getting made fun of sucks

No matter how good at speaking Japanese you get, there will always be ways to get made fun of by your girlfriend.  Some are simply called “cute” for speaking with an accent, while others get called out on their weird grammar or pronunciation.  No matter what, most guys HATE criticism, even backhanded statements about how cute you are!  It makes you feel stupid, like you are being treated like a small child, and it’s easy to get defensive.  Even people who speak really awesome Japanese get made fun of because they speak better Japanese than normal people!  It’s frustrating!  It’s only fair though, because I’m sure not many of you can honestly say you’ve never made fun of Japanese English or “カタカナ イングリーシュ.”  It’s just so cute and funny.  アイ ライク ユウー!カン ウイ ハング アウト ツモーロ? “I like you!  Can we hang out tomorrow?” Awwwwwww….okay, fair is fair.

4.  あんたの彼女とばかり話してると、かわいい女の子みたいに話しちゃうわよ!笑

This title means, if you talk with your girlfriend all the time, you might end up sounding like our friend above:

「あたし美しいね〜!」”I’m sooo beautiful!” (said very cutely)

This is probably not desirable, and believe me, everyone will let you know how girly you sound.  This unfortunate scenario also occurs a lot because a huge portion of Japanese instructors are women, and most foreign guys don’t spend their time looking for manly sounding Japanese dudes to chase around.  If you are just starting your language learning experience, you won’t be able to help but talk like girl.  On the flip side, if you over compensate, and try to talk like a Japanese THUG, then your friends, girlfriend, their friends friends, will think you’ve lost your mind and will all laugh until they turn blue.

5.  Your girlfriend wants to learn English

I know Koichi hates this with a passion, but most guys learning Japanese are going to try to get girlfriends in Japan by becoming language partners.  Sorry Koichi, but it’s the birds and the bees, and it’s the way it will always be.  Men, chances are your future girlfriend isn’t going to date you because she’s really pumped about teaching someone basic Japanese over and over again.  If anything, she’ll agree to hang out with you because she wants to learn English, at least as one of the perks.  If that is the case, you will probably spend a lot more time explaining things in English rather than learning Japanese.

6.  No keigo or kanji with your girlfriend

Maybe I have exaggerated a smidge in the above parts, and there are significant linguistic improvements that can be made in your life by chasing Japanese girls.  Keigo (formal language) and Kanji skills are probably not included in this theoretical list of benefits.  Unless you want your conversations with your girlfriend to sound like two bankers who aren’t quite sure which of them is 先輩「せんぱい」 “senior,” you won’t be getting a lot of time practicing keigo.  Even Japanese people have trouble learning keigo because no one uses it with anyone close to them.  Using keigo with people you like makes you sound like you are being especially cold and probably mad at them.  It’s like when your parents were driving the car on a road trip when you were a little kid, and your dad is super lost and your mom asks overly kindly “Honey, would it be at all possible if we could stop and ask for directions?” to which your dad replies very politely and forcefully restrained “Darling, if we can just find the freeway, there will be no need to stop and bother the gas station attendant…”  It’s a little different in Japanese, but it’s the same concept that something isn’t right if you’re suddenly being very formal.  It sounds weird to the point where a lot of girls really don’t like to practice it with their boyfriends.  Sorry guys.

For kanji, unless your girlfriend is really into calligraphy and wants to practice together everyday, she probably won’t be a big resource for helping you there.  Some people try to hand write letters, but most would rather be doing other things, like eating nachos.  A popular solution is email, but I can assure you, everyone can type a ZILLION more kanji than they can actually write!  You, me, and most Japanese people under 30 included.  Now there’s even 191 more kanji we’re all supposed to know…so better start writing some really complex love letters!

7.  Jesus that’s fast! Can’t you speak slowly?!  Oh wait…you are?

It may seem like your girlfriend is talking like a machine gun to you, but wait until she gets around her friends…it’s a blur of giggling lightning!  For a lot of us, the only real part we participate in once they get going is listening to how silly or cute we sound if we try to say anything.  That means that most of the time she’s going easy on you.  It’s nice and practical for mutual understanding, but really it’s like using training wheels all the time.  Once you take them off, you’ll crash and burn in real conversations.  An obvious solution is to tell her to speak normally to you, but that often doesn’t last long.  If she tells you at lightning speed to “Bring the chopsticks” はしを持って来てね 「hashiwomottekitene」and you hear “Go to the bridge and back” 橋に行って来てね「hashiniittekitene」she’s probably going to get tired of you fast if you’re gone for an hour while she’s waiting for chopsticks!

橋だろ?!

8.  Your conversation topics will be limited

Some of you might be dating Japanese bioethics experts who take time and care to explain each vocabulary to you to ensure that you understand every word, but most of you will be repeating the following conversation far more often:

A.  今日何食べよう?「kyounanitabeyou?」”What should we eat today?”

B.  さあ、なにがいい? 「saa, nanigaii?」”Uhh, well what do you want?”

A.  分からない。冷蔵庫に何が入っている?「wakaranai. reizokoninanigahaitteiru?」”I don’t know.  What’s in the fridge?”

B.  あまり何もないよ。「amarinanimonaiyo」”There’s not much.”

On the edge of your seat yet??  It’s like repeating basic Japanese class over and over again.  Some of you will get to delve into deeper topics from time to time, but it’s not like you’re going to be seriously practicing Japanese all the time with every conversation.  It gets tiring to have real deep conversations all the time, so it’s really easy to be lazy and stick to the mundane stuff, and mix in some English when you don’t know the right word and hope she understands.  BAD BAD BAD!

9.  Your girlfriend probably doesn’t know Japanese very well

I hate to criticize your girlfriend without having met her, but her Japanese is probably not perfect.  Unless she’s used to teaching foreigners all the time, it’s likely that she won’t be able to tell you much about how to learn Japanese.  She learned it a loooong time ago, and way differently than you’re going to have to do.  It’s not going to help you that much to go sit in on an elementary school Japanese language class in Japan.  Too much worrying about protecting your anus from mean children to focus anyway.

The Japanese your girlfriend uses isn’t even exactly the same thing you’ll be learning.  Her kanji’s probably off some of the time, and the grammar she uses sometimes won’t be found in your textbook.  That’s okay for basic practice, and it’s great to learn theoretical and practical use of Japanese, but this isn’t Japanese class it’s your GIRLFRIEND.

10.  Just kidding.

Getting a Japanese girlfriend really can improve your Japanese.  A lot.  Please don’t run away from Japanese girls screaming that you need to protect your language skills.  Please.  A lot of them are nice, fun, and might actually speak to you in Japanese.  If you practice with real people, then maybe you won’t sound like a conversation from Nakama or Genki, which will make people laugh way more than if you actually try.  Hopefully you’ll learn lots of cool things about culture, dating style, a new world view, and if you’re lucky, find more meaningful things to talk about than kanji radicals.  Just keep in mind the frustrations and pitfalls along the road, don’t give up, and don’t stop actually studying.  みんな頑張れ!

P.S. All this probably applies to Japanese boyfriends, too, for all of you that like boys and not girls.

This post was written by Nick W., who has traveled throughout many regions of Japan in search of unique cultural gems.  He is currently earning his MBA and has researched topics like folk music in WWII Japan and Ainu cultural revival through music.  His favorite Japanese musician is the late Nujabes.  He does have a nice Japanese girlfriend, but is too lazy to learn much Japanese from her.

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  • Isidroorea

    hey there, help me out here, what is the phenomenon you mentioned in number 2 called ?

  • T_sin999

    i had a japanese girlfriend for about 2 years and i never got really pumped up to learn japanese!
    a) she spoke portuguese
    b) i could never learn japanese for the hard work ir requires.
    still i had to laugh about it cause i could notice so many things that are true/funny!!!!
    i suppose you didn’t had a japanese girlfriend!!!!!
    but several
    :D

    congrats

  • Q&A

    if it’s the one in the 1st photo, then I assure you that the last thing I’ll think of……… is learning.

  • GL

    lol it’s a goood thing that I’m generally a skeptical and self-sufficient kind of person. Because of that, I’d already be expecting all the quirks and repercussions of trying to have a real foreign conversation let alone finding a g/f to talk to.

    That’s why to avoid looking like a total nut bag in real life, I have officially abandoned real life and opted for alternative measures as a solution: technology. That’s right kiddies, even on the internet you conversation partner won’t even know you’re a complete idiot just because you mispronounce a freaking word or misheard their lightning-fast speech.
    If you can speak using an IM or in a chat, then you’ll sound just as fluent as anyone because they can’t hear your funny accent or think you’re too slow or dumb, because all you need is know how to read and respond, it’s that simple. It’s also much easier to improve your language too! If real conversation doesn’t work, then opt for alternatives!

    See, there’s always a way to not be subjected to ridicule, because online everyone is on a fare, equal level playing field! You don’t take precedent over someone just by the accident of your upbringing or environment. ahahahaha!

  • Pretentious Linguist

    To be fair, #2 isn’t always a sign of laziness/language incompetence. It’s a linguistic phenomenon called “code-switching”, and it also occurs between two people that are perfectly bilingual.

    Also contrary to what the article says, it’s actually a valid form of communication provided that both people have roughly the same amount of expertise in each other’s native languages. After all, even in the example conversation above, person A and person B understand each other well enough to continue the conversation. Code-switching is really only bad if someone does it while speaking to a person who doesn’t understand both languages.

  • Anon

    very funny and good article…. from the perspective of a girl with a japanese boyfriend! luckily i’m not dating him for his japanese.. or for his english :)

  • http://www.raisingadelaide.blogspot.com AdelaideBen

    I have to say that this is soooo true. Well observed and well written… had me smiling (and sighing a little at the sad reality of it all). The thing is, if you’re wanting to learn Japanese with a Japanese girl outside of Japan (ie working holiday) then you will be spending most of your time teaching English. That’s ok… there are other perks. However… it doesn’t change that much after marriage (when you think you really need to work hard at it for the sake of communicating with parents-in-law)… and it doesn’t even change much when you have a child (and their Japanese naturally progresses at an enormous rate).

    Still – I think at the end of the day, it says more about us than it does about them… ?:-)

  • Kaori

    Good points. I have Romanian boyfriend for almost 3 years but I don’t know much of Romanian language! We just talk in English lol

  • Guest

    You and her are both too busy working on one another to talk any Japanese.

  • ANONYNMOUS

    lol same kinda thing happened to me last year… he was my teacher, we flirted for like 3 weeks, and started dating after that. after 5 months he turned out to be a controlling, childish brute, borderline abusive. I was warned later by all his ‘friends.’ So… just saying… just cuz they’re japanese and they’re hot and they like to tell you cute things in class doesn’t automatically make them your type!!! as with any relationship, take your time and beeeee careful!!

    P.S. I’m now dating a MUCH nicer Japanese guy. :) And no, my Japanese hasn’t gotten much better because of it.

  • anonymous

    LOL I love how misspelled anonymous

  • Anonymous

    and left out “I”

  • Joey Petrone

    awesome blerg! bookmarked.

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  • jamu27

    haha. I have a japanese gf and i’m trying my best to learn japanese. And I would have to agree with nearly all of these points! >,<

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.gerity John Gerity

    So wait, just what anime opening is this from anyway?
    http://www.tofugu.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/man-on-bridge.jpg

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001822996128 Joe Ahlstrand

    so is it a bad idea for me to try and get that job at a Japanese restaurant to work on my Japanese a little?

  • Eubankp

    This was sooo funny!

  • Anonymous

    When you learn how to flirt with a girl you take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. When you flirt with the opposite sex the right way you can make someone devoted to you the rest of your life.

    how to get a girlfriend in middle school

  • Reiko The Hapa

    Boy does this article relate to ,This was the whole reason I had to relearn Japanese (~_~) I had to discard like 85% of what I ‘learned’ but things are going a lot better now… if not slower but still it’s kinda of a Quality of quantity.

  • smartees

    lol

  • Monkoiboi

    This really had me remember about the way some of my friends thought but they actually try learning from anime. Hearing them try to speak it them makes me embarrassed to know they are now known as a “weaboo” or what ever it may be.

    I hate people who would want to date racially like that. Its like he or she has a fetish. And in my oppinion i think racial fetishes create missconceptions, perverted relationships, and or some sort of suffering after a break up(devorice mainly). I think there should not be any kind of focus into what race you date. Cause if everyone just decided to date a japanese girl, there will be no more of them. Basically, they will be extinct.

  • Tishero

    Lock on. That made me laugh harder than the hairy sailor moon picture.

  • Mamoru Fan

    That guy up there That said ”I’m sooo beatful” is dressed as sailor moon :)

  • Canadian Samurai

    My girlfriend is Japanese and she’s still trying to learn English. Like I mean I love her to death, but it’s frustrating when she’s talking about anything and I can’t understand. Were currently living in Tokyo, and I find is difficult to fit in, especially with her family, but she also felt the same when I brought her home to Canada to meet my parents last summer. Generally I have to rely on facial and hand emotions to communicate. I’ve been teaching her how to say basic sentences. Now she can fluently say “Hello, how are you?”, “I love you” and “Goodbye. See ya later”. Although though she won’t teach me. I’ll be like: “Kimmy? Can you teach me how to say-” Instead she makes this silly face and shakes her head. Often she’ll be having entire conversations with me, speaking in full Japanese. She knows it annoys the hell out of me, and she gets a humorous kick out of it. With her being Bi-sexual, she once invited a girlfriend of hers over to join us in the bedroom. Now that was awfully awkward. She actually wanted me to shave off her and her friends genital pubic hair, and having no clue what she was saying , I just assumed she wanted me to shave my beard off. So I did. So I had two naked Japanese girls laughing heuristically as a razored my beloved facial hair off. (good grief) So for now I will continue to teach my girlfriend English, and I hope someday we will get married and move back to Canada to start a family.

  • Sabre0000001

    ‘That is the funniest and truthful article I’ve read in a while :P.’ holy toledo you just read in my mind !

  • one.

    right on, after a few “teachers” i realized i was just saying that i wanted to learn japanese to pick up girls. o well. at least i learned iku iku.

  • F’DGaijin

    Nujabes was awesome.

  • F’DGaijin

    Nujabes was awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KondoMonster Jimmy S. Kondo

    I remember my ex girlfriend’s friends would tell her that they’re jealous cuz her English will be a lot better. :-D

  • Pingback: Schoolgirl talk | English 5970

  • Hanneesh

    this is a pointless article?

  • Sozen

    You listed why not to get one but i don’t know how to get one. How about an article for that?

  • Sozen

    You listed why not to get one but i don’t know how to get one. How about an article for that?

  • Sozen

    You listed why not to get one but i don’t know how to get one. How about an article for that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/anoccomir Alwin Oz

    what a refreshing and funny post, I dont know if its all true, but it sure sounds like things I should know before heading to japan to check out the gals xD

  • Hangker

    I thought its fun live but it just booooring stuff…lol.. I feel give up now

  • Hangker

    I thought its fun live but it just booooring stuff…lol.. I feel give up now

  • Hangker

    I thought its fun live but it just booooring stuff…lol.. I feel give up now

  • Oreolove2008

    Konnichiwa! Agaitimas? 

    That sailor moon guy is really disturbinnnnggggg!

  • Kraemder

    Just looking at that picture of the Japanese chick in the schoolgirl outfit makes me wanna study =D.  Wow. 

  • Kraemder

    Just looking at that picture of the Japanese chick in the schoolgirl outfit makes me wanna study =D.  Wow. 

  • Hoganjo

    Number 11, she doesn’t want you speaking to other Japanese girls fluently. 

  • Guest

    English equates Human / Earth Common.  You can say anything you want about how many more Chinese or Spanish speakers there might be, but the truth is that all of those nations are trying and have been trying to learn English.  English is the language of western media (the most popular variety, worldwide) and of technology.  I have yet to encounter a programming language that employs even a single asian character/symbol .. this is the all-telling truth about the world and where our global usage of language is heading.

    In short, fuck Japanese and any other language that is not English.  In 100 years, you will be able to live in any other country and not speak the native dialect or even the core language; everything will be Common English.

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  • :)

    I laughed a lot.

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  • Cheru

    Some of this stuff is similar for Japanese boyfriends, some of it, not so much. Girls tend to communicate verbally much more. So if I wanna have a conversation, I’m usually initiating it and doing the majority of the talking.

    For my situation, my boyfriend, actually, isn’t interested in English. While he’ll use some of the English he knows if there are words in Japanese I don’t know, 95% of the conversation is in Japanese. Sometimes, actually, when he attempts to say something in English, I can’t understand what he’s saying, and I tell him to say it in Japanese, so I can understand.

    As for the gender-specific language usage, I might speak a little bit like a guy, but probably not a lot. As for Kanji, I’ve learned to read quite a lot from texting. And actually, while I have a similar problem, to being able to read more than I can write, I actually can write kanji from memory that I’d never written before I started texting with my boyfriend, because we use them so often.

    So, for Japanese boyfriends, some of these points are similar, and some aren’t. You don’t have to worry about talking too masculine-ly, guys are more likely to speak more slowly, and the conversation is differently distributed. As for my experience, my Japanese has flourished in a situation where I’d otherwise be using 80% English, all the time. I can’t say I recommend getting a Japanese boyfriend/girlfriend just for the language practice, but if you happen to come into a relationship, it definitely helps.

  • Cheru

    Some of this stuff is similar for Japanese boyfriends, some of it, not so much. Girls tend to communicate verbally much more. So if I wanna have a conversation, I’m usually initiating it and doing the majority of the talking.

    For my situation, my boyfriend, actually, isn’t interested in English. While he’ll use some of the English he knows if there are words in Japanese I don’t know, 95% of the conversation is in Japanese. Sometimes, actually, when he attempts to say something in English, I can’t understand what he’s saying, and I tell him to say it in Japanese, so I can understand.

    As for the gender-specific language usage, I might speak a little bit like a guy, but probably not a lot. As for Kanji, I’ve learned to read quite a lot from texting. And actually, while I have a similar problem, to being able to read more than I can write, I actually can write kanji from memory that I’d never written before I started texting with my boyfriend, because we use them so often.

    So, for Japanese boyfriends, some of these points are similar, and some aren’t. You don’t have to worry about talking too masculine-ly, guys are more likely to speak more slowly, and the conversation is differently distributed. As for my experience, my Japanese has flourished in a situation where I’d otherwise be using 80% English, all the time. I can’t say I recommend getting a Japanese boyfriend/girlfriend just for the language practice, but if you happen to come into a relationship, it definitely helps.