Japanese blogger and internationalist Madame Riri explores five prejudices and misconceptions foreign male-Japanese female couples experience in Japan.

International/interracial couples the world over often find themselves more heavily scrutinized by the general public than couples who are of the same race and nationality. Often, the automatic assumption is that one or both members of the couple have some kind of fetish for a certain race, or somehow couldn’t romantically succeed with members of their own race.

This seems especially true in Japan, where a combination of strict unwritten social rules and an astonishingly small number of foreign residents makes any interracial couple stand out all the more. This has arguably led many Japanese people to hold certain ingrained biases, many of which have no basis in reality, about interracial couples in Japan (especially the “classic” combination of a white western male and a Japanese female).

Here are, according to blogger and outspoken cultural commentator Madame Riri, the five top misconceptions about these couples in Japan:

  1. “Westerners only go for ‘exotic looking’ Japanese girls.”

According to Madame Riri, there’s a strong image among Japanese people that foreign guys love and actively seek out girls in Japan who look most “exotic” (read: most Asian or traditionally Japanese-looking), that is to say, women with long, straight black hair, almond eyes and, according to Japanese slang, “a face like a flatfish.”

Obviously, though, this isn’t really true, since everyone naturally has his or her own preferences. Also, despite coming from a relatively homogeneous society, Japanese women themselves have all kinds of different facial structures, eye shapes, and hair colors and styles. Possibly, this misconception stems from a related belief among certain communities of Japanese people that every other foreigner they encounter in Japan is only there to pick up women (a belief at least some foreign men are doing nothing to dispel, but that’s a story for another day), so it makes a kind of sense to these (deluded) people that all white dudes want the most Japanese-looking woman possible.

2. “The guy in the couple is probably a loser who can’t get girls in his own country”

This one is a fairly common refrain, both among Japanese people and other foreigners. It’s a sort of reverse philosophy to the above, with the crux of the belief being that western men make up a tiny portion of the people living in or visiting Japan, are thus “exotic” to Japanese women, and subsequently enjoy more success with the opposite sex than they’d otherwise have in their home country.

Anecdotally speaking, it’s true that I’ve seen a lot of guys choose to extend their stays in Japan because of romantic success with women and the exotic factor almost certainly plays at least some part in that success, but it’s also absurd to assume that someone would uproot their entire life and move to another country thousands of miles away from their friends and family — with all the financial, logistical, and emotional difficulties that entails — for the express purpose of chasing tail.

A Japanese woman presumably waiting for a date (who is almost certainly also Japanese, but hey, we tried our best)


3. “Japanese women who marry or date foreigners are ‘easy'”

As a foreign male, here’s another one you’ll hear a lot from Japanese people (men especially). According to Madame Riri, there’s a common image that Japanese women interested in foreign men are all club-frequenting nightcrawlers who refuse to just get serious and settle down with a nice Japanese man.

Japan is a country that still occasionally has arranged marriages, after all, and it would be naive to deny that there’s quite a bit of pressure on single Japanese men and women alike to preserve cultural and racial purity by tying the knot with a fellow Japanese, so women who choose the “alternative lifestyle” of dating foreigners are seen at least on some level as outcasts and can even be passive-aggressively admonished by their peers.

Obviously, though, relationships are hard and international couples choosing marriage know going into it that such marriages carry with them additional hardships, so the idea that a Japanese woman who marries a foreigner is just playing around is sort of absurd on its face.

4. “Even if the parents themselves are ugly, white-Japanese couples always have the cutest kids”

Haafu kids are seen as the pinnacle of adorable in Japan, and many of them grow up to be models or media personalities. With so many good-looking haafu 20-somethings joining variety show casts, it seems many Japanese have picked up the idea that mixed-race kids almost always turn out good-looking, even if the parents are just one jutting nose hair shy of being mistaken for cave trolls.

We probably don’t really have to explain why this is a dumb misconception.

5. “There’s just something off about interracial couples”

Again, this weird form of prejudice against interracial couples revolves around the idea that at least one member of the couple is going out of their way to choose a member from another race and that this somehow indicates something strange about the couple.

Obviously, though, falling in love with someone is far more complicated than that. There are myriad factors involved and many people just happen to end up loving someone from another race.

In Japan, specifically, interracial couples will almost certainly experience a number of microaggressions about their relationship, from casual suggestions that one or both are just in it to learn a foreign language, to implications that the foreign member of the relationship is just hunting for a green card, to unwanted and inappropriate speculation and commentary about the couple’s sex life.

But hey guys, don’t let it get you down. It’s your relationship, and, as the meme goes, haters gonna hate.

Source: Madame Riri
Featured image: Jessie Leong via Flickr
Embed: Hiroki Ueno via Flickr