View Full Version : Meeting the Parents
2004-04-17, 01:57 AM
Hi all, this is my first post here, be nice :-P
Me and my Japanese girlfriend have been together for 8 months. I met her while she was over here in England, she went back to Japan recently and I'm going to follow her out there in August after I graduate. She's reluctant for me to meet her parents because they are opposed to her having a gaijin boyfriend, but they will be visiting while I'm there so it's pretty unavoidable.
She hasn't told them about me, nor has she ever taken a previous boyfriend to meet them, so she's a bit anxious about the whole thing. She's told me to brush up on my Japanese for one thing!
I'm nervous about it too, even though it's a while off, for two reasons: I've never 'met the parents' of past girlfriends before so I have no idea what to do, plus I don't know how Japanese go about it. Does anyone have any advice for me?
PS my BS detector is finely tuned, so advice like "on meeting her father, punch him several times in the face. He will see that you are able to adequately protect his daughter, and will instantly regard you as one of the family" will be ignored... :-D
2004-04-17, 03:15 AM
all i will say is that my ex gfs parents have been nothing but nice to me.......
However my mate in UK split up because her parents didnt want her to have a gaijin boyf....
2004-04-17, 07:24 AM
Not sure what advice I can really give, but if she is an adult she she should be free to make her own decisions and not have to ask her parents permission as to who she can date and who she can see. Its often troubling for these young Japanese women who sneak around or hide the gaijin boyfriend becuase they worry what daddy might think. As far as I can tell many women do not show off their boyfriends to parents unless the guy is a steady thing or is a potential marriage partner, and that is probably the way they may see things. May be no big deal to you but it will be to her.
Sooner or later she is going to have to bite the bullet and deal with it, by either telling her parents or deal with you meeting them.
When I first met my girlfriend she didnt tell her parents we were dating which irked me a bit in the beginning but I visited several times as a 'friend', they got used to me being around and they soon cottoned we were an item. They have always been civil and nice to me, but I heard her mother wasnt too keen on us getting married. I dont know what the reason is your g/f s parents are against foreigners- my guess is that its fear, that you will take her away from them, that you will leave Japan, or that the parents may have to deal with communication issues esp if you dont know Japanese or the local customs.
Many Japanese men also have issues over the war, and are just insular and racist.
Others I have met are very open and easy to get on with- its just the luck of the draw There are no easy ways to deal with this, but the only way is to show that you are not a two headed monster and that you dont want to take his daughter away from him. Some parents just have a hard time letting go when their daughters get boyfriends. Try not to take it personally- how would you feel if you had a daughter in the same position? Find out what he likes, show an interest in his hobbies etc (baseballand pachinko for example are huge over here). If he hates foreigners there is probably little you can do about it, but you can make it easier on both of you by being civil and polite and showing you care about his daughter.
Learn some of the language (polite or honorific language is probably best)- buy him a bottle of whisky and perhaps help him drink it. Will soften the edges a bit i think.
Best of luck.
2004-04-17, 02:47 PM
I agree with all the above posts. The gradual "he is a friend" seems to work well I think. My mother in law likes me (the father is still a problem though and he is one who will not change) Good to take a present, alcohol works well I think.
The mother in law really liked me after meeting my family at our wedding (we had the wedding in Canada and flew them there, we live in Japan though)
Depends on the family.
My first Japanese gf never introduced me to her family... I think it signals a problem somehow...
2004-04-17, 03:01 PM
Remember there is big difference between "just a friend", friend, boy/ girlfriend, co-habitant and fiancee/ potential wife.
A friend is fine to start off with.
There is not necessarily a problem with the family in not taking a boyfriend to meet with them, as paulh as said. Unless you have been actively talking marriage with them, why should they bring you home?
Relationships between parents and children living away from home or overseas can be hard enough, without bringing boy/ girlfriends into it. Worry and concern over: potential lack of care in old age/ sickness, allowances, infrequent visits or communication, lack of acceptance of lifestyles can all influence the relationship; long before a potential marriage with a foreigner looms on the horizon
So keep it cool, and be a friend.
2004-04-17, 09:18 PM
Dear Joethe humanity,
As a wife of a Japansese national I would like to advise you to think very,very carefully about what you are commiting yourself to.
Which country would you live in when you marry?
What about your different views on religion/morals/bringing up children? This may not matter when you are in your 20's and in love but later on it will make a difference.
eg) Do you feel comfortable taking onsen with your daughter, Japanese consider it normal for Dad to bathe with daughter up to her teens but for me personally it is something I can't get my head around. Maybe I am an uptight wasp.
Anyone who tells you the lifestyle you are thinking of choosing is easy is b...sh...g you.
Sit down and weigh up the good points vs bad points, if you are ready to commit to that kind of lifestyle, go for it, but don't be naive.
2004-04-17, 09:38 PM
Dont want to go overboard here, but from my experience with my wife and kids (daughter aged 9 and son aged 5) and assuming you have long term aspirations with this lady:
Education and raising kids in Japan is expensive. International schools where they are educated in English starts at one million yen a year and thats just for school fees. Dont take the international school route and you end up having teenagers who speak a different first language than you. Are you prepared to learn Japanese or teach your kids English at home?
To send a child to university will over 20 years cost you 20-30 million yen per child. or about 150,000 pounds.
I bathe with my daughter and its not a big deal. maybe Ill rethink it around puberty and mentrual cycles. Personally i dont have a problem with nudity etc as its quite natural- nothing to be ashamed of really. We are all born with one or the other.
Overseas travel with a family gets expensive. Looking at a million yen or more in airfares and spending money just for Christmas. Last February I went home for two weeks and airfares alone were 800,000 yen for 4 people.
How would you feel about spending the next ten-fifteen years of your life here?
For most foreigners married to Japanese here all they can do is teach English unless they have a skill that Japanese need and are willing to pay a liveable wage and can support a family. teach English on a low wage at a conversation school for 10 years and you will want to find a train to throw yourself in front of after a few years.
What would you do if she doesnt want to live anywhere but Japan, or wants to come back here after 5 years in the UK? Can you suppport a spouse on your income?
What language will you speak at home if you got married? My wife speaks English but the amount of english has gone down 50% since we got married and had kids. How do you feel about Japanese culture, being a gaijin?
Dont know anything about your relationship with this lady, but in Japan a relationship or marriage goes sour and a foreign husband has next to no rights, no access or custody of children in a custody dispute. You can even lose your right to stay in Japn if you are on a spouse visa. tales abound of Japanese wives 'kidnapping' children from foreign husbands to Japan and there is nothing the guy can do about it to get them back.
2004-04-17, 11:08 PM
PaulH makes some really good long term points. All of which are good to consider. This post to me sounds like two people just out of uni though, to I do not think wedding bells are in the near future.
I think the points TH makes about the long term care of the parents/family are a big deal esp. if the girl is the oldest or only child. If there is another male child then it is less of a concern perhaps. My wife is the oldest and the only one working in Japan at the moment so we will have to remain the parent's only source of support in the future. Kind of a raw deal perhaps but that is what I signed on for ( or rather I knew that when I signed on)
The issues of children and international schools is a valid one, are international schools the best way to go though? If the child wants to be Japanese (if they can be) would sending them to international schools isolate them more? I suppose that depends on the family's long term plans. It is something I will ahve to consider more in the future.
2004-04-19, 07:56 PM
theres been some thick advice here so ill keep it lite! i get the gist ur just meeting the folks cos its just gonna wok out that way. 8 months is still early.
anyway the family will likely be very very nice to you whether they love u or hate u!! u probably wont know how it went until after theyve gone and u ask ur GF so ull be sweet either way.
also u will probably feel that they are a little "cold". This is just my personal opinion from my experience and its more of a cultural difference than a cold shoulder. japanese are usually very polite even in the most uncomfortabe situations and i picked up some over niceness...of course this isnt unique to japanese families...
generally, i have found that japanese people esp. women DO NOT TELL their parents about boyfriends until its very serious, of course there are exceptions. they are often worried because they have no experience in doing it - whereas in sydney at least the first meeting/s are usually really chilled when u pop in to meet ur girlfriend for lunch etc.
so dont stress. polish up some basic courteous japanese - throw in some teineigo (polite) words and this ll win u points. and as others have already noted just chill, enjoy the experience of meeting a japanese family in japan - its KrAZy!! :-D
2004-04-25, 01:42 AM
I am a Western girl with a Japanese boyfriend, so this advice may or may not apply the other way around, but this is what happened when I met his parents.
He did not tell them about me when we first started dating, which is fair enough in my book. I didn't tell my parents either, until I was sure we were "serious." I told them that I had met a nice guy who liked the same music I did, but I didn't tell them that we were an item for awhile.
He told his parents about me when we had been dating for about 2 months. This was a little fast, but he did it then because he wanted to take me home with him for New Year's, and it was November at the time! They asked about me, and he told them things like my age, occupation, educational background, and where we met. He did tell them that I was American, but since he doesn't speak English, they weren't too worried about the communication problems! I guess they figured if he was okay talking to me, they would be too?
I spoke to his mother on the phone about a week before I met her; she asked me if there were any things I couldn't eat, or especially wanted to eat, and apologized for never having met a "gaijin" before (They live in a small town). I did my best to speak polite Japanese and he told her how nervous I was!
They picked us up at the station on New Year's Day, and we introduced ourselves. They asked me some questions, nothing invasive, it was just friendly conversation, and I gradually warmed up and began talking to them normally. At first, I tried very hard to be polite, but they spoke to me in casual Japanese, so I gradually relaxed and followed their lead.
We spent four days there... it seemed pretty "normal" really. They took me out to dinner and to the ocean, we looked at baby pictures of my boyfriend, his mother insisted on buying me the shoes that I wanted to buy for myself! It was a really positive experience....
If I were going to condense it into a few advice points....
1. Follow their lead as far as politeness. Definitely bow etc when you first meet them. If your Japanese is at a high enough level that you can function at several politeness levels, use whatever level THEY are using. My BF's family is very casual in their relationships with one another, not every family is.
2. Ask questions, be interested in them. Ask what kind of work they do, where they were born, what your girlfriend was like as a little girl. They will appreciate the interest.
3. Don't sleep with her while you're there? My boyfriend and I always sleep in the same futon at his place, or at a hotel etc, but he made a point of sleeping in seperate beds (but in the same room) while we were at their house. I don't know if everyone is the same on this issue, but it seems like a safe way to go. Ask your girlfriend what would be appropriate BEFORE you get there.
4. Don't be too lovey-dovey with her in front of them, unless she initiates it. Japanese people arent big on PDA. Holding hands, opening doors for her, etc, is fine, but kissing and whatever probably shouldn't be done in front of her parents.
5. Speak as much Japanese as you can, unless they want to try English. They will appreciate your effort! It shows that you are learning about her culture as she has learned about yours.
6. BRING A PRESENT!!! Japanese people always always ALWAYS bring some local present (usually food) when they travel to another city, much less another country. I don't know where you are coming from... when I went to visit my boyfriend's parents, I bought some Pepperidge Farm cookies from that international food store in Shin-Yokohama. I told them "They were made in America, but I bought them in Yokohama!" and we all had a good laugh about it and ate them together. We also brought them some of the little "Hiyoko" manju from Tokyo. You MUST bring a present of some sort. A local cookie, cracker, pretzel, candy, etc from your home country is probably best if it will survive the trip.
Many people have given marriage advice... it doesn't sound to me as though you are at that point? I'm not sure what to say about that. My boyfriend's mother asked me how many kids I wanted to have... I was just honest. She didn't ask me directly if I was planning to marry him, and I don't know if I am or not. But you should at least FORGIVE these type of questions, I think they are common from Japanese parents. I just smiled politely when questions that I couldn't answer came up, and was honest when she asked about my dreams for the future. IT seemed to work (either that or I was lucky that I agreed with HER??? LOL)
2004-04-25, 03:44 AM
That's actually some really good advice, probably what Joe was looking for. You should be happy that your boyfriend has such a kind family.
Irene T. Ota
2004-05-18, 10:50 AM
> That's actually some really good advice, probably what Joe was
> looking for. You should be happy that your boyfriend has such a
> kind family.
2004-05-19, 07:45 AM
eh? yes... that is what I said...
Her post was actually useful.
Why did you quote me on this old thread?
Irene T. Ota
2004-05-19, 11:58 AM
HI ! HELLO!
Good day!I`m a Filipina national,and I just looking for a japanese national
that he needs to do his responsabilities for her daugther become 8yrs. this coming
July.And I need some good advice What should I need to do best for my daugther
future?She is now staying in Philippines w/ my mother and she was born on July
1996 in Saipan USA,she is holding now a US passport naming her japanese father,were
not actually been married.
Now I` living here in Gifu married w/ a japanese national and w/ 2kids.My
husband did`nt understand my intention for my daugther he is thinking bad for what
I`m doing now ,this is a secret for him.Because he thinking that I `m going back to
my before boyfriend and live together.
So pls. help me to find the rigth way to solve my problem,I just only want to
see each other as father and daugther.The telephone number I`m holding now is only the
company his working before.What should I do best? Pls. understand my situation.
Thank`s anyway for your big heart,may the lord god bless you.
2004-05-19, 12:08 PM
does your daughters father recognise your daughter as his daughter? He may be married and his wife may not even know he has children from another relationship. If he has recognised paternity it amy be possible for him to have to pay alimony but in japan there are no penalties for non-payment. If he does not recognise paternity as the father there is probably very little you can do, if the child is not on his family record for example.
What exactly is it that you want the father to do? Pay for her education, meet her? Have visiting rights? If your husband has accepted you and your daughter as his family, fishing around and chasing after her real father may open a can of worms with your husband and his family, and your daughters father may not wnat to be found.
Be careful what you wish for, becuase you may actually get it.
message to hikari-no-tsubasa
Your situation is interesting to me,
say u got msn?
if u do, mind adding me? :)
2004-05-20, 02:10 PM
... I don't have MSN but you are free to mail me if you like. firstname.lastname@example.org
2004-05-20, 05:54 PM
Ｉ am shocking at all this good advice.
Make sure you've got your chicken head on as Mum will probably fetch a KFC for you to gorge on. Make sure you wolf it down with viking abandon and wipe your mouth on your sleeves afterwards. You mentioned on another forum that you have a big black moustache - you might want to shave that off with a sharp razer before you meet the parents.
OK next: let her do the talking. Don't spurt out a load of crap Japanese as it will lead to awkward exchange of smiles. Stick to key phrases which she can teach you - how to introduce yourself, how to say please and thank you. Just try to convey that you care about their little princess and not just in it to wolf-bag her sensless.
And their impression of you will be formed very quickly so appear humble at all costs and non-imposing. Ask banal questions that you already know the answer to (get her to translate) like "So, Dad, are you a man then ?" which will probably elicit five hundred earnest nods and a "oh yes, that's right well done".
And remember in Japan it is really rude to take your shoes off indoors. No one likes stinky feet.
2004-05-21, 06:46 PM
It is a very big thing to introduce a boyfriend/girlfriend to your parents here in Japan. Basically when this is done, it implies marriage is in the winds. This might be why some Japanese people are reluctant to have their boyfriend/girlfrien "meet the parents". Mpst parents are basically afraid that they will lose their son or daughter if they marry a foreign person ie. moving to a different country, also losing grandchildren and ending family lines. All this is very important to Japanese
people. The post from "hikari-no-tsubasa" points out some very good points to follow. I know I `ve married 3 times here
2004-05-22, 10:45 AM
Just to add to what yagiman says
Yes the racism and narrow minded ness is there, but the other side of the coin, is that many foreigners (but not all) are university educated, reasoanably intelligent- the ones i know with Japanese spouses have Masters degrees and work at universities- and are on good incomes. Since I got married my wife and I have had about 4 or 5 overseas trips, our car is a late model which cost about 3 million yen. Due to my job she has has a healthy offshore pension fund stacking up, compared to the japanese pension fund debacle, which even Japanese politicians know is a farce and a black hole.
In Japan there are about 700,000 divorces every year, between Japanese couples, not international couples, which all things considered tend to be much stronger as usually a couple will do more to make it work. in Japan a divorce is as easy as a hank at the city office. All over and done in 10 minutes, if both couples agree. Makes you wonder what it is that makes a Japanese couple break up that makes a foreign relationship so frightening.
Japanese men (the ones i have met anyway) spend all their time at the office, working on weekends, having affairs on their wives, playing golf, and their kids dont even know them. How many Japanese husbands read to their kids or see their school play, watch their sons play baseball at school or meet their teachers? I know I do.
In a way, i am one of the unfortunate ones whos wife worked for a couple years had kids and now doesnt work- she says she wants to but hasnt broken a sweat looking for part time jobs.Kids are old enough that she can but she bleats that she is 'too old' and'no one will hire her becauuse of her age' In the meantime still have to work seven days a week, work several jobs just to keep up.
2004-05-28, 01:21 PM
I have been reading this thread with some interest... I have been using a website I've found to meet some Japanese women... I work for a language school in the Kansai area, and have little interest in going to Bars and the like...
A woman who I met a week ago and then yesterday are getting along well. She has indicated that she wants a friendship... However next week she has invited me to stay at her parents home... She plans on taking me sightseeing in her hometown, wants to cook dinner for me (and her family), and will be having me stay overnight in a spare bedroom at the house...
I am actually looking for someone to start a relationship with... However I have not said anything to her about this... Can someone give me some suggestions, or shed some light on what might be happening... (Also I am into drinking beer, and occasionally sake/shochu, etc.... She has indicated that her father likes the same, and would like to "drink" with me... She will translate the conversation as my Japanese ability is limited to stock phrases...)
Any sincere ideas about what is up... Or perhaps more importantly - how I should conduct myself... Would be greatly appreciated...
2004-05-28, 04:05 PM
I would treat the entire visit with her as a friend. It's hard not to read into her inviting you to her place, but it seems that if your relationship was started with friendship in mind, it's probably going to stay that way.
If you are interested in more than just friends; I'd wait to let her know until either after or before the visit; not during. But you should definitely let her know otherwise you'll be miserable... but also don't take it badly if she doesn't go with it. You did after all meet over the internet....
2004-05-28, 04:54 PM
Yagiman, I'll bet you are glad to have gotten that rant out of your system...lol!!
Srious, though...I agree with most of what you have said. Most Japanese men are either total workaholics or complete sexist SOBs, reveling in a system that is stacked against smart, independant Japanese women. No wonder Japanese ladies seek the ideal solace (whether real or simply fantasized) of an international romance...
In short, it sucks to be an adult female in Japan...just look at Princess Masako, for God's sake!! That's exactly why so many women want to get hitched and then fly the hell outta here>>>>>>>>>>>>
2004-05-28, 05:38 PM
Just playing HessoMagari here but haven't you met Japanese men who leave the office at 5, dote on their families and hate their jobs ? I have. THey exist. Not all men play golf and drink themselves stupid and stay away from home. Don't you think there is a tendency to notice the bad side ? Come on, now there are lots of international marriages, divorcees, late marriages (晩婚化）, common-law marriages (事実婚） so there are many individuals that don't conform to the generalisations reluctantly offered here. People musn't think that it is so clear cut - there are many devoted, doting Japanese fathers out there that you just haven't met yet. This thing of only seeing the people on the surface........is misguided.