Finding Japanese Singles in Portland (or anywhere else)

By | January 29, 2019

The other day I got a comment from a reader asking about if I knew anywhere to meet Japanese singles in Portland. Although I don’t typically talk about this sort of topic, it is related enough to Japan/Japanese and I have some experience in this area myself, so I thought I would put down my thoughts.

While I’ll be talking specifically about Portland and meeting Japanese people, the content of this post will, for the most part, apply to the general question of how to go about meeting single guys or girls of a specific race or culture. Please note that my focus here is on singles over the legal age (which I believe differs by state), and I’m assuming the purpose is for a longer-term relationship.

There are many reasons you might be looking to date (maybe eventually marry) someone from a specific culture. It may be because you tend to be attracted by certain physical characteristics of that culture, because of some cultural element, or even because of a connection to your ancestry. While there are surely trends that can be seen in various cultures, be sure to keep in mind that there is a great variation as well, and many people you meet may not be anything like characters on TV or anime (although I guess this is mostly common sense). Furthermore, the longer someone lives in a country other than where they were born, the more they become accustomed (“Americanized”, etc.) to that country’s culture. That is another reason an individual’s personality characteristics or other attributes may not be what you expect.

Anyway, as to meeting singles of a certain race or culture, obviously there are thousands of websites, apps, and other services out there (and many are free or inexpensive). I haven’t been in the ‘market’ for a long time now so I can’t really speak to those, but I will say over a decade ago, I found a handful of dating sites to be mostly useless. But if you are reading this article, I’m guessing either the popular methods for finding people didn’t work out, or you didn’t feel motivated to try them for whatever reason.

In order to meet (for example) Japanese people in Portland, I think there are a few levels of increasing effort/commitment––with a correspondingly higher rate of success.

Level 1: Passive

For this first level you are simply trying to go places where Japanese people are likely to hang around or visit. For Portland, a few places to try would be:

  • Kinokuniya bookstore in Beaverton (also another store is opening in downtown Portland later this year)
  • Uwajimaya Japanese grocery store (the same plaza as Beaverton’s Kinokuniya)
  • Powell’s “city of books” store (has a large section of Japanese books)
  • Portland Japanese garden (review)
  • Japanese-owned barbers/hair salons (I haven’t been to one, but heard it exists)
  • Japanese restaurants that have good food and Japanese management/waiters (This is just a small sample, there are many others)

Lighthouse magazine (review) is a good resource to find other places in Oregon or Washington owned by, or particularly supportive of Japanese people.

Of course, the actual number of Japanese people you’ll see at places like this is probably going to be pretty small, and the number of singles even smaller. Even if you do find someone who seems like a good candidate, it might be awkward to ask them out at a place like a bookstore or restaurant. Also, if you hang out at the same place too often you might start creeping people out (including employees), so use moderation.

So while there isn’t too much time investment required here, your chances of success are pretty low.

Level 2: Special Events

This level involves going to a special event related to Japan or Japanese culture. It can be an event at a place normally associated with Japanese culture (like New Years’ celebration at the Portland Japanese Garden) or some event held in a special location (like the yearly Mochitsuki festival).

At special events such as these, I think you’re more likely to find Japanese people, as well as those who are deeply into the language and culture, as opposed to those with a minor curiosity. Some of the events may have interactive demonstrations, and that is one way you may be able to stir up conversation with a potential suitor. Certain questions like “You’re Japanese, right?” are going to be easier to ask here than in a place like a bookstore or restaurant.

Level 3: Small-group meetings

To have better chances at success in finding a good candidate you have to spend extra effort and really get engaged. One good way to do this is to attend a meeting about Japanese language or culture, or some related area (anime, ikebana, etc.). You should be able to find groups like this on the site Meetup.com.

The Portland Language Exchange (review) is one meetup I attended to get some Japanese conversation practice. It was a nice small group of friendly people with various interests and personalities. I should stress that the main purpose of this specific group to do language exchange (for those learning Japanese and those learning English), not as a dating event, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make connections there.

Now if you are just trying to meet Japanese people for dating without much of an interest in Japanese culture or language, I think you might have a difficult time. However, if you have enough interest to study up and at least be able to have meaningful conversations about these things then I feel it will be much easier to make “first contact” and get friendly with someone. You don’t have to be as crazy as I am about learning Japanese; I think a little bit will go a long way, especially if your interest in that country’s culture is genuine.

While you may find quick success in a group like this, what’s more likely is you’ll start building up connections, and eventually use those connections to find more people, one of whom might turn out to be Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Level 4: Immersion

This level involves the most effort and potentially has the highest chance of success. It includes actually going to Japan, but of course most of us can’t afford to quit our jobs and live in Japan for a long period of time to search for a soulmate. Even if you do find someone, there is the problem of whether they will want to return with you to the USA (or wherever you are from).

The other option is to go for “virtual” immersion, which is one of the themes of this blog (and one I’ve had personal success with). One of the ways to do this involves creating your own blog and also participating with other people’s blogs (writing comments, etc.). Of course, all of this should be done in Japanese, and that means you will have to put in the hours to get to that level of ability. But the payoff is that eventually you may find Japanese people who live near you, or at least within driving distance.

I should probably devote another post to reviewing some of the common Japanese social networking sites, but to get you started this page shows a ranking of SNS sites in Japanese. This page also has a list of popular blogs, broken down by category.

As with the other approaches, I feel it’s better to try to make friends first instead of going in with guns blazing. So as opposed to creating a blog titled “My Search for Japanese Girls!” you could try creating one about some hobby you have, or just for Japanese writing practice, and comment on similarly-themed blogs.

Blogging is just one way to get into the community. Once you meet people, you can branch out and start doing text/voice chat, and there are other options like playing online games together.

Conclusion

Finding people to date is, in some ways, like advertising a product––except the product is you. If you’re too aggressive and direct people may be turned off, but if you try to gradually get acquainted with someone, building on things like shared interests and values, then you’ll have a much better chance at success. And when you’re searching for someone from a specific country, the more you know about that country’s language and culture, the better.

Good luck! I’ll be very happy if there is even one satisfied couple as a result of this article.

(Note: featured image of a rose taken from Pexels.com)

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