Aug 19



From the Summer 2009 “1/4 Cheap Trick” Issue of JQ (JETAA NY Quarterly) Magazine:

Like Japanese Girls? Then You Need This Book

By Rick Ambrosio (Ibaraki-ken, 2006-08)

There I was again, outside my apartment, in the car with Hitomi. Again, at this awkward moment where we both fidget and she puts the Toni Braxton CD in.  This is of course, about 10 months ago now, back in Japan. Even after living in Japan for a year and a half, I still had moments like this; social impasses as I liked to call them.  We both didn’t know what to say, what to do. Well, in reality, I didn’t know what to say or do. This was before I understood what “nan demo ii” really meant, before I could fully understand all the silent cues.  This was before I read David Radtke’s Understanding Japanese Women.

I know I know, you’re thinking, “oh no, not another pick-up line book. Not another cheesy how-to.”  It’s what I feared before I started reading it, too. However, I was delightfully surprised that the e-book was instead full of very useful tips for interacting with Japanese women. No pick-ups or tricks, just a lot of hard-won information from a lot of trial and error. Also, the mystifying question, “why do I see so many attractive Japanese girls with super dorky Western guys?” was finally answered!

David J. Radtke graduated from Wayne State University in 1995 and was a JET in Shiga prefecture from 1995-1998.  While there, like many other JET males before and after him, he did some dating and eventually settled down, married and had two genki kids. After a few years of marriage, he began a Web site for other foreigners trying to understand Japanese women. It was here that he began doling out the wisdom he and others had gained from years of dating and marriage to help Westerners dealing with the confusion and frustration that one often encounters when dating women from another culture.

“In the beginning there were only about 15 articles, and yet I began to receive e-mails from quite a few Western men (and even some Japanese women) about the content,” David said. “Each e-mail contained a battery of questions that the Web site had yet to cover. Many of the same questions kept popping up, but questions about problems that I had yet to experience were also included.”  Thus began David’s research.

Using Craig’s List to swap questions from men across the globe and conducting interviews with Japanese men and women of all ages and stations, David began to piece together the main cultural roadblocks that existed not only for many Western men dating Japanese women, but also the issues andview points of Japanese men as well.  “The more I talked with Japanese people, the more I found the same answers popping up,” David said.  “There was consistency. There was stability in the advice they gave me. And that was what I wanted—solid, reliable advice to solve the problems Western men were having in relationships with Japanese women.”

The book tackles an assortment of issues from multiple angles, one of which I found interesting was confidence. This section of the book contained some guidance I felt would be found in other advice books; how to gain confidence and why it’s important. Unlike other books, he then builds upon that by helping us understand the concept of confidence through the Japanese lens, and how it’s displayed and perceived by Japanese men and women.  It’s these cultural insights from the book that are invaluable, and frankly, I wish I had known about before I went to Japan. The e-book takes situations that have left many a Western man furrowing their brow, breaks it down, explains the cultural significance from both the male and female perspective, and then suggests a thought-out way to deal with the situation.

David isn’t done, though. “Right now I’m doing the research for a second book on relationships with Japanese women [provisionally] called UJW – Marriage and Beyond.” His next e-book will cover the adjustments one needs to make when in an interracial marriage, from dealing with communication issues and raising bilingual children to in-laws and divorce.

Maybe it’s too late for me since I’m back from Japan now, and those awkward silences in the parking lot with Hitomi are long gone, but Understanding Japanese Women gave me some nostalgic flashbacks as well as a bunch of “OOHH!, so that’s why!” moments. The e-book puts into writing many abstract concepts I tried explaining to my Western friends in America about dating in Japan. Many embarrassing situations could have been easier navigated had I read the book years ago. If I were in charge of JET (read: probably not a good idea) I’d think about make it a required reading for single male JETs. It would certainly ease grassroots international relations and allow clearer perceptions of each other’s culture.

I bet you’re still wondering, “What about the geeky guys and the cute girls!?”  Well, I suppose I could tell you, but I figure you’ll just have to read the book to find out. (I can’t spoil everything!) As for me, armed with all this new and useful information, it’s about time I give Hikki Utada another call.

David Radtke presently lives in Shiga and is working on his second e-book. His current publication is available online through his Web site at

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