Hello dudes and greetings from Tokyo, Japan! I finally got around to visiting Japan and after a week in Tokyo I have some observations I’d like to pass on.
While Tokyo has a lot to offer in terms of culture, beautiful women, food (especially for meat eaters) and general experience, I cannot recommend it as single dude travel destination. Unfortunately, the high prices, immense language and cultural differences and general backwardness of the local culture provide some significant headwinds to the single dude lifestyle. To make Tokyo work for us would require a large investment of time, effort, and money. A local guide is also essential.
Tokyo is an enormous city, by some measures the largest metropolitan area in the world with 25+ million people living here. There are many different cities combined under the Tokyo umbrella, and many different kinds of places you can go to for different vibes. I have to admit I didn’t do a ton of exploring the city during my one week stay so I can’t give an in depth guide but I would like to share some first impressions from my stay, with a focus on the potential pitfalls facing the single dude traveler to Japan.
Tokyo turned out to be quite a different place than I expected it to be for many reasons. The first was regarding the supposed high tech modernity of the place. The image I had in my mind before I got here was of a super modern society with high tech gadgetry infused into the very fabric of society, with vaguely science fiction overtones. The Tokyo I saw in 2015 was not even close to this image. In fact street level life seemed to me to be decidedly middle-tech. There are vending machines and automatic toilets, sure, but they look to be generations old. Tokyo looks to me like it was high tech 20 years ago and hasn’t been updated since. Sure, the Japanese continue to lead the world in high tech innovation, but this does not appear to permeate every day life the way that I expected it to. In fact, Japanese society continues to be very traditional and the technology on the street level is pedestrian at best.
This made sense to me after thinking about it for a little while. Thanks to the refusal of the Japanese government (and businesses) to allow for the regular boom and bust cycle to operate via the creative destruction of the marketplace, Japan has been mired in a multi-decade economic depression. I will leave it to the many writers who have covered this topic at length to discuss it more thoroughly (zero hedge.com has hundreds more articles on this topic). What I saw is how everyday Japan has been left behind in the technology boom the rest of the world is currently enjoying. Japanese life is far from cutting-edge in 2015; many of the other big cities in Asia have a much more new and modern feel to them these days.
Here is but one example: WiFi. Believe it or not WiFi is extremely difficult to find in city center Tokyo. It’s shocking. I have been to third world countries with much better access to the Internet. WiFi is a hundred times easier to find in Saigon than it is in Tokyo. Even dirty shitholes like Manila are doing better to keep you connected than Tokyo and my last experience there was four years ago! I visited coffee shop chains all over the city desperate to get connected and finally realized that almost none of them have WiFi.
This lack of connectedness is a significant single dude travel pitfall of traveling in Japan. I still haven’t figured it out completely, but I think the best option is to go ahead and get gouged at the airport for a SIM card purchase or rental or something they call pocket WiFi which I don’t even understand. There was a long line at the airport for this service and so I skipped it and I regretted that decision greatly all week. Here’s a picture from the airport of the prices of a 3G card for purchase.
Thats 4500 yen (~$37 USD) for 1 GB of data, which is ten times what it should cost in my opinion. Price per MB is most certainly decreasing at an exponential rate worldwide, and it looks like Japan is way behind the curve on this essential basic modern necessity.
SIMs are not for sale at 7-11 or other similar convenience stores, instead I found out that one must fight the throngs at a large electronics store to get the same thing you can get on any street corner in Thailand.
This mistake was exacerbated by another huge pitfall of Japan, namely, the terrible level of spoken English. The Japanese just can’t do it. Mainland China is the only place I’ve been to where the average level of English language skills are lower. I can’t think of anywhere I have ever been where speaking (and reading) the local language was such a necessity. Of course there are mobile apps now to translate text and even spoken language, but you need internet access for that. D’oh!
There is no question that Japan has lots of hot chicks but the language barrier is tremendous. Even well educated professonal girls may not speak English at all. I have been to many countries where the average level of English language skill is low, but usually the university educated people can handle the basics. Here when faced with the prospect of communicating in English for even the most basic subjects, many Japanese just shut down and stammer. They simply panic. Even people who are supposed to speak English can barely manage and they have very strong accents.
If you are a single dude traveler, you need to be prepared for an uphill battle with Japan’s many beautiful girls. Don’t get me wrong, many are actually quite nice and friendly but communication is a major stumbling block. I have on many occasions in and out of Japan met cute and friendly Japanese girls but I’ve almost always been derailed by the language issue.
The silver lining here is that the Japanese language is quite easy. With a few hours of advance study I was able to pick up quite a bit after just a week on the ground. Compared to Chinese it’s an absolute breeze, the spoken language that is. With a couple of months in the wild and a little determination I believe I could become conversational.
Observations about Japanese Girls
As a result of this incredible language barrier I didn’t spend much time talking to Japanese girls but based merely on observations, I developed some opinions about Japanese girls. One thing I noticed was that is that they seem to be quite available and almost begging for male attention. I went to the park one afternoon and there were numerous small groups of girls that were really “displaying their plumage.” They were loudly laughing almost without pause in a very feminine way, and engaging in other “please notice me” behavior such as taking excessive group selfies, standing up and walking around to be seen and so on. Everything I observed seemed to indicate that they were absolutely desperate for male attention. On multiple occasions I saw girls eyeing me. All of the girls I approached in the park were very friendly and wanted to take pictures with me but I simply could not communicate with them.
There are many stories going around about the low birth rate in Japan, and while I did not observe this, I did see a lot of single girls. Judging by how nearly every one of these girls cooed at the kids in the park I got the impression that Japanese girls do indeed like and want children. Why such a low birth rate then? My guess why is twofold: First, the government policies that have created this epic economic downturn have made it too expensive to have kids, and second, the Japanese men’s obsession with video games, weird porn, sex toys, and living online instead of in real life have seriously damaged their ability and desire to have real relationships with real girls.
While I do not recommend Japan for a single dude hook up trip I do get the idea that this would be a good place for a Western guy who is looking for a more serious relationship. For a guy looking for a smart nice traditional, yet hot chick to start a family with, I could suggest the following game plan: move to Japan for a while, learn Japanese, and make your desire for a family and long term mate public. I would much prefer a Japanese wife to a Filipina or Thai, for example. Japanese women are smarter, sexier and classier in my opinion than the Filipinas by a country mile. On the personality side, I believe there is a much greater chance that a Japanese girl will remain nicer after being imported to the West than a Thai girl.
We have written before about the danger of importing of girls back to the West and how they become corrupted by Western influence and bitchy western female values. I racked my brain and I could not think of a single example of a Japanese girl that became overly Westernized. Japanese women seem to stay Japanese for life.
Tokyo is fucking huge and the subway system is completely incomprehensible. Operated by several companies, it is a total clusterfuck. If you have internet you may have a chance of getting to where you want to go. Plan on it taking twice as long as you think to go anywhere because you will get lost inside each station trying to find the proper entrance for the particular company that owns the line you want to travel. Then you will need still more time to find your way out the appropriate exit through the throngs of people.
Let me give you an example, just one station, the Shinjuku station, sees 3.5 million passengers pass through its turnstiles daily. I cannot repeat this enough, it is an incomprehensible clusterfuck but must confront it because getting around via taxi is slow and prohibitively expensive (the Japanese taxi mafia has successfully held of Uber so far).
Tokyo has a well deserved reputation for being expensive, but due to Prime Minister Abe’s attack on his people and the value of the yen it’s now only fucking expensive versus holy fucking shit expensive. It’s still near the top tier expensive of expensive cities, right up there with London, Paris and Singapore but not as expensive as Zurich. Tokyo is definitely not a place for a cheap trip or for travelers on a budget. If you want to meet beautiful girls, have fun, eat well and not spend a ton Bangkok is a thousand times better choice than Tokyo.
I like Japanese people. They live up to their reputation as super polite, trustworthy, and competent. Tokyo is a very safe place if you don’t go looking for trouble. As an example, people dont even lock their bikes when they park them on the side of the road. Girls walk around in the busiest subway stations with their bags unzipped without worry. I imagine if you were to leave your wallet lying around in public someone would return it to you with the money still inside more often than not.
One word of caution for single dudes, however, there are some neighborhoods you don’t want to cause trouble in, like the Kabukicho neighborhood which is a mecca of nightlife but run by the Yakuza. I could imagine some rowdy drunk Aussie bogans could get their asses kicked or worse if they get too drunk and start messing with some mafia guys or their girlfriends. Also, the party neighborhoods have a bunch of the most aggressive Nigerians I have ever seen trying to con people into visiting their strip clubs and other shady establishments. The Nigerian mafia is a fairly worldwide operation these days; normally I like those guys since they are usually friendly, nice and helpful if you “need anything”. However, in Tokyo they were extremely pushy and tried to grab me physically several times when I was walking down the street minding my own business. I dont see how the Yakuza and the government tolerate these guys, they are so out of place among the polite and respectful Japanese.
While the Japanese are very nice they are also extremely fucking weird. The island has a long tradition of isolationism, and this isolationist quality has led to many strange idiosyncratic fetishes. Whether its the obsession with comic books, anime, or strange porn, the Japanese have their own way of doing things.
The outlandish nightlife that they have in some neighborhoods of Tokyo provides an example. I was traveling home on the subway from dinner with a friend and decided to get off a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. I was surprised to find myself in a party neighbourhood of Kabukicho with some very strange clubs. In the street it seemed like everyone was either a mafia-suited Yakuza, a hot chick walking around by herself in a nice short dress and very high heels, or a bizarre hybrid half male half female specimen of the worst fagbaggery I have ever seen.
Gender relations have always been unusual in Japan, and today many Japanese people now visit “hostess” bars. Thats what all the hot chicks in party dresses walking around alone were- hostesses whose job as far as I can tell is to hang out at these specific bars and talk to the male patrons. Apparently its not prostitution, but just paid companionship and apparently regular red blooded Japanese men are incapable of making friends with regular girls. This is perhaps some remnant of the geisha tradition. The fagbagsters are actually called hosutos and provide the same service but for gay guys, or for women, or for straight men, I cant really figure it out. Apparently the hostesses like to patronize hosuto clubs, so it’s a circular economy of sorts. These clubs with fagbag hosts appear to be very popular, there were tons of them in this neighborhood I stumbled upon.
Accompanying all of this weirdness is some of the most sheeplike general populace I have observed in my travels. The masses of business suited professionals zombieing their way through life is astounding. I suppose in a society that is as restrictive in regular life as the Japanese business culture is, some outlets need to exist to let out all that stress. Since the idea of health consciousness appears to be virtually nonexistent in Japan, instead the Japanese seem to turn to weird fetishes and heavy drinking. Its a strange place and after a week there in the thick of it, it seems even stranger.