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I recently wrote “Dating A Foreigner (From A Japanese Perspective)” and I received a lot of interesting feedback and I thank you all. One particularly resounding message from you all was that many people wanted to hear perspectives other than my own and of course I agreed with you. On the other hand, it’s difficult to cover many topics with a lot of perspectives all at one time, so I’ve decided to go at this topic by topic.

Before getting started, I’d like to point out again that all these examples could just be personal character traits, flaws, habits, beliefs, or senses of humor and that not all Japanese people act the same way. In fact, I found one to be quite rude and atypical. There are no generalizations because the people quoted in this article dated different people from different countries and they all have their own personalities. So, keep that in mind!

So, don’t be upset if an example related to your nationality and it doesn’t match with the way you think or feel! I’m not taking a jab at your country, and everyone knows that every person in the world has different experiences. Let’s just have some fun with this and maybe learn something along the way.

Is It True That Japanese Men Pay For Women?

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In Japan, many people still believe that men paying for women is point of good manners and Koichi talked about this in What It’s Like A Dating a Japanese Guy as well. In fact, some guys even feel insulted, or that their pride was just given a ‘low-blow’, if a woman insists that she should pay for herself. This is standard dating-conduct for men in Japan. So, if you are a non-Japanese girl out on your first date with a Japanese guy, insisting to pay your half may be more hurtful than helpful to his pride.

But wait a minute! This has been changing quite a lot actually, especially amongst the newer generation of couples. Nowadays, many men wish more women would help pay for the date tab. It’s also more common for men to ask women to contribute somewhere between 20-30%. If at no point does the woman offer to pay for something, then the man may actually be lead to believe that she is not a generous or thoughtful person!

According to a research study conducted by Sankei Digital and Sankei Living from December 19, 2012 to January 15, 2013, about 70% of 169 Japanese women still prefer to be paid for while on the date. Actually, this research made many Japanese men upset to the point where they cried out “Where the heck is man-woman equality!?” I guess to be safe you should at least offer to pay, and hopefully they will reject your offer (if you didn’t want to pay)? With these ideas changing so rapidly, be careful not to step on any hurt-feelings landmines.

Men Of The Younger Generation (Kids These Days!)

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Japanese men who have been educated throughout school and from societal constructs about ‘the equality of men and women’ often question the male’s responsibilities. In this article, of course that means paying for things like restaurant bills and such. I came across an interview from a man who was dating his coworker. The interview was conducted by Fukuishinbun.

In the interview, he complained that he pays a little more than his girlfriend when they go out on a date, even though the receive the same payment from their company. He believes that they should pay the same amount if their payment is exactly the same.

This change in Japanese men’s thinking was also brough up last year by a Chinese woman who was dating a Japanese guy. On their first date, they split the bill and this made her so upset that she wrote down her complaints on her blog. What she wrote took the online news sources by storm.

I had no idea why I had to pay because it was a date with my boyfriend. In China, or at least in Zhejiang where I am from, the man pays for practically everything while on dates. I’d say that the restaurant bill should be almost 100%. In fact, if a woman pays, she risks being hated by her boyfriend.

It’s not only this Chinese girl, though. Another Chinese girl (劉), a Korean girl (ハン) and an anonymous Laotian girl were also all surprised that their Japanese boyfriends didn’t pay for them. As for ハン, she was so upset when her boyfriend tried to split the bill for a ラブホテル (Love hotel) that she left him in anger.

I’m not sure about how old the Japanese guys were, but all three of these women are in their late teens and early twenties, so I assume they were dating guys who would be considered to be part of the “younger” generation. The older generation of men still expect that men should pay for women… however, younger generations are changing, so it may be best to be flexible on that stereotype.

Furthermore, one anonymous Japanese guy dating a British woman was often told by her: “I can’t believe Japanese women. They allow men to split bills because they don’t have confidence in themselves!” He used to split the bill when he was dating Japanese women, but he had to change his mind after hearing that line, at least for her. Over time, be began to get annoyed with what she said because she repeatedly complained about Japanese women who allow men to split the bill. It’s possible that the myth that all Japanese men prefer paying for everything may not have a long life if he felt this way.

Women That Prefer To Be Paid For

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Like the above research suggested, many Japanese women still believe that their portion of the cost of a date should still be paid for. I also know of many Japanese girls who believe that men should always pay for women and that women should only date men who pay for them. @ya is maybe one of them and was surprised at how differently things are done in the UK.

In England, there is the concept that ‘give and take’ between a man and a woman should be equal. Regardless of whether or not it is a first date or a date between a couple with a long lasting relationship, it is pretty common to split the bill. Actually, just as a side point, you may want to be weary of a guy who insists on paying for you on the first date as it might be a sign that he is looking for a chance to sleep with you. Anyhow, I personally get annoyed by the person who puts forth so much effort to split the bill perfectly down the middle. (Hold on a second, let me root around the bottom of my purse for the 4 pennies I owe you.)

Yamaihimiko dated an American guy and she mentioned that he fronted the bill for everything, whereas inokay1123, who dated a few American men in the past, said that they all wished to split the bill and she stopped seeing them because of that. Actually, she brought up an interesting thing.

Just like many Japanese people do, I offered to pay my own bill to show my appreciation and gestured that I would hand over my money. Then, they just simply accepted it.

So, if you’re a guy who is seeking the chance to date a Japanese woman, you may want to question yourself when she poses this option. If she does offer to pay, maybe you should just say, “Don’t worry. It’s on me.” There’s a chance she’s not actually wanting to pay for half of the bill, but she’s just doing so to be polite.

Although some Japanese women complain that their international boyfriend doesn’t pay their bill, one anonymous woman who was dating a man from Thailand was very impressed. The whole bill was on him, even when she took her sister or friends. Apparently, it’s even pretty common for Thai men to borrow money from their friends before going on a date to help pay for it. It’s also normal for men to either provide their girlfriends with a ride to work, school, or accompany them to their destination, but it depends on his income as the transportation can change from bus to motorcycle to taxi to car to hovercraft.

It Doesn’t Bother Me!

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As for me, personally, sure I like free food, but I didn’t care whether my boyfriend paid for me or not every time. Even now that I’m married it doesn’t matter… though that might be because there is only one wallet (our wallet). I had an ex-boyfriend who suggested that we decide who pays the bill by playing rock-paper-scissors. I accepted and from there on out we always decided that way. I found it pretty fair and kind of fun, too. While dating my Canadian husband, sometimes he would pay for me and other times I would pay for myself. It didn’t bother me, especially because I knew that I was making more money than him at the time, haha!

So, now you see that it’s not so black and white. While it’s still very much standard for the older generations to pay for a woman’s meals and date, the younger generation is changing. Some girls still expect it, other girls do not. Same with guys too. Best thing you can do if you’re a non-Japanese person dating a Japanese person is to be sure and offer if you’re a girl and attempt to reject payment offers if you’re a guy. It’s basic manners, anyways.

How does your country work in regards to this topic? Or, have you had experiences with Japanese women / men when it comes to paying for the date?

  • lychalis

    nando’s is a peri peri chain in England, I dunno if there are any in the US, but it’s pretty popular over here. It’s very good for eating out as a group because you can go up and pay for your meal separately :D

    and don’t worry, I figured as much! I still answered though XD

  • shiro

    I don’t think Japanese men have much room to complain about “gender equality.” Theirs is still a country where the majority of women quit or postpone their jobs upon marriage or pregnancy because it’s virtually impossible to raise a child and work. In small towns it’s like daily life is set up in such a way that everything is inconvenient unless you’re a housewife (banks, post office, garbage stations only open from 8 – 4pm and so on). “Do you plan on getting married/pregnant?” is an actual question you can get during a job interview. Fix all of that, and then you can talk to me about splitting the bill, boys.

    In all seriousness though, I like the swap system.

  • Yuki

    I think it kinda depends on the guys income as well as beliefs? But I think it’s good if the guy pays for the first date, and then split of subsequent dates. But the guy paying for everything every time, unless he’s super rich, would be harsh on the wallet and might associate girlfriends with expenses. If they insist on paying it’s ok I guess, but otherwise if not a split you could just pay for your meal. A free meal is great and all, but I personally wouldn’t mind paying for my share if they ask.

  • Aiko

    Great text @mamimumason:disqus ! I really enjoyed reading it. But there is something that I don’t understand… In the text, the accent was on date, right? Or I misunderstood something?
    Here is why I am asking…
    I’ve accidentally met a very nice Japanese guy through a website for language exchanges. During our online conversation it turned out that he will move to the same city I live in due to his job assignment . As he saw how interested I am in learning Japanese language and how much I adore Japanese culture, he suggested that we occasionally meet for a drink and practice languages. It seemed to be a very nice plan.
    Few months later, he moved to my town and during the very first meeting we went for a quick lunch (a soup and a tea) as I was starving after 4 hours of Japanese classes I take classes. So, when the waiter came, I took out my wallet (I was raised to never let anybody pay for my share unless they REALLY insist) and just the time I pulled out my money, he already payed. I protested a little, but he didn’t want to hear about it. When we decided to move on and take a walk, he took my bag and didn’t want to let me carry it as it was really heavy due to the books I had inside. OK, this might nothing to have with the further, but I was surprised and impressed. Although it did bother me at first few hours!!
    We agreed that we will go to a Japanese restaurant for our next meeting. I made the reservation and when I informed him about it, he emphasized that he is the one who pays the entire dinner but he will let me pay the drink next time we meet. I was feeling uneasy, but later accepted it. The dinner was really marvelous, but even today I dare to think how much it was :-S
    The third meeting we had, I reminded him that we had a deal. He laughed and said “Yes, I remember.The first drink you pay, but everything we order after that is on me.”
    What’s the deal? I mean, we are not dating, we are language exchange partners occasionally meeting… Is this common behavior for Japanese men even when not on date? (⊙_◎)
    Thanks in advance!

  • Canadian Husband

    If Koichi and Viet go out for a dinner. Who pays?

  • Silver Torah

    In case people did not get it, solo = alone

  • Daniel Tapia

    “yyyeaaaahhhh!”

  • yoru.morino

    I’m from Mexico, I haven’t dated any Japanese men. But here, men are expected to pay everything. However, there are many girls (incluiding me) who prefer to split the bill. Most of the times, the man will not accept it. But after a while and if you insist…they end up accepting it and no more free stuff for you! Hahaha

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    haha, I think if a guy tries to use the “gender equality” excuse the get out of doing something, women get suspicious. i.e. “I’m shelling out this time because I still want to impress you, but don’t expect to be so lucky in the future.” If a guy doesn’t have the money to pay every time, he should just be honest.

    Not that it’s a bad plan, though. I think the idea of not offering to pay more than you are truly willing is in general a good principle. However, at least in personal experience, a “gentlemanly favor” would have to be a little more subtle. ;)

  • Mr Cloud

    I’m dating a Korean girl. She never offers to pay for the meal. And if I ever suggest her paying for once, she gets super defensive. I’m British, so my culture is that couples share everything, including bills. Should the man pay for more meals than the woman? Of course, but not every single one. It’s becoming a bit of a hot potato in our relationship. It’s a cultural difference, but one that is leaving me with very little money at the end of each month. Sometimes I even have to make excuses to cancel meetings with her, as I know I would have to spend another 40+ for a meal

  • Jakob Dorn

    I pay for my food, you pay for yours. Doesn’t matter if I’m out with friends, on a date or whatever.

  • MasonFraser

    I always thought this was a good system. It doesn’t really seem right to be ask someone to come for food with you, and then expect them to take care of the cost as well.

  • Wonder Party

    All the “young” (< 33) Japanese men I've dated have paid. I offered to pay my share but they didn't accept. Did I insult them I wonder?

    My (Japanese) boyfriend always paid for everything and bought me a lot of stuff. At first it made me uncomfortable. But when I found my job contract wouldn't be renewed, it helped me a lot when he would buy me groceries/house supplies so I could save money for school entrance fee. Eventually I could relax because I didn't have any guilt about "using him for money" or anything like that since I really do love him and school was something that would help both of us in the future. Soon the medical bills for his father became so much he couldn't buy things for me anymore, but it's ok. Him paying for stuff isn't the reason I fell for him! Anyway, now sometimes I can buy dinner for him and I feel so happy to have a chance to do that for him (even though it would be better to save the money). In the future when we both have money again (at least I hope that's the future…) probably he will pay a lot again, but I hope to pay for things for him too.

    American guys usually paid stuff for me too. European guys… well, I only dated one but he went 50/50 with me from the start (though not in the annoying penny-counting way… as long as it was "about even" it was good).

  • Kati

    I’m 24 and from Austria and when we go out for dinner or drinks, it goes without saying that my boyfriend picks up the bill, even if my girlfriends come along.

    Of course i try to even things out somehow – for example, when he eats at my place, which is most days – i pay for most of the groceries, or when we go on a trip we will share the cost of accomodation.
    Now, i have to say that my boyfriend has impeccable manners and is a a true gentleman of the old school, who still knows how to pull out a chair , hold a door or properly ask a girl for a dance.

    We went to Japan to work as ski instructors last winter, and he had a way harder time than me getting used to the fact that the ‘ladies first’ principle doesn’t apply there.

    Sadly; these kind of manners are not the norm any more in these parts, actually, politeness has become so rare that it is often mistaken for flirtation :(

    However, I feel us Austrian girls are still quite lucky.

    I lived in England for some time and also had an English boyfriend back then, and I was shocked at how impolite and downright rude english men are.
    Instead of holding the door for you they would actually push you out of the way to get there first!

    And my then boyfriend would always insist on splitting the bill down to the last penny, even though i told him ( having accepted it as a cultural thing that he would never actually invite me without some kind of compensation) that i would feel a lot more comfortable taking turns.

    To top it off, when we went out for drinks with his mates , he even tried to get me to pay for rounds for everyone even though i was only drinking soda. What a douche. That didn’t last very long obviously.

    To sum it up, i like being treated like a lady and would consider anything else unacceptable, but i do feel that the financial burden should somehow be divided up equally (according to respective income). Overall i think a lot of people look at the ‘gender equailty’ thing differently than i do – Of course men and women are equal, and of course we should receive equal pay, opportunities etc, but the fact that we are equal doesn’t mean that we are the same!

  • http://gyarurin.blogspot.co.uk/ Rinnie

    It sounds like people in Japan are pretty similar to my country (England). ^^ BTW, guys, if ANY girl offers to pay, not just Japanese girls, you should consider if she really wants to pay or not (and if you really want to pay, and how much you want to see her again).

  • Tuna

    I find it simpler to go by who initiated the date. If someone asked me out to a restaurant for a date I’d expect them to pay if I wasn’t given enough time to gather my money, similarly if I asked someone out I’d pay since I initiated it and they might not have a lot of money on them by the time the date pops up. But if they give me fair warning, or we’ve been dating each other long enough so that it doesn’t matter, I’d split the bill or even cover it all depending on how long we’ve been dating.

  • hashi is koichi’s bodypillow

    I’ve never been on a date, but I think that whoever you are, it is a nice gesture to pay for your date. splitting the bill isn’t very romantic but if one person orders small fries and a coke while the other person orders confit lobster a la mode in red wine and saffron jus with pheasant rosti bisque and a chardonnay merlot 1467 vintage, the first person should pay more. if someone is really rch or suggests a fancy restaurant like fried chicken de la kentucky they should pay

  • Daiyu Hurst

    I’m nearing the end of my first of 4 to 6 semesters of Japanese, so I’m not sure if I have this correct or not:

    私 は あなた と 一緒に ラブホテル に 行きたいません!

  • Sittie Fairoza Alonto

    I think those Japanese men are taking the gender equality a little further. Despite the concept, there are still men’s role and women’s role. I think it is rude to ask a girl to pay (be it partially or not). It’s not like we girls won’t like to pay, but it is very insulting on our part. We will offer to pay when we have some amount, just wait for us; and do not ask us in the face! Also, complaining about it is really a turn off. It demotes machismo.

    I am speaking from my cultural perspective.

  • Alex

    However, I find the whole ritual and history behind it quite charming. In today’s economical and relational state, I believe it might simply be very upseting for any modern young men for having to deal with this.

    In Canada, men will pay for a date if there wife dont have a job. Other than that, it is quite not attractive to have a silly dependent child expecting to have everything for free. We like women strong, smart and independent. As we mustly all have careers, it is just normal to expect women to feed themselves. Of course in Canada, men do there chores, hopefully. Maybe if I was dating a child, a mistress or a prostitute, in that case, I would pay for her meals.

    With the direction Japan is going, it only seems logical that they take a similar turn as other foreign countries.

  • James

    I would expect for the guy (like myself) to pay for things, however if the woman I’m dating asserts in some way that she wants to pay part of it I’m not against it.