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My First Date in Tokyo

Submitted by: BillyBoy  | Nearest Major City: Tokyo  | Category: Date


Tokyo Date in Shibuya

Tokyo Date in Shibuya

The dating scene in Japan and America are quite diverse. While in my hometown, it is perfectly normal to ask a nice girl out for dinner or dancing, there are several rules of etiquette that needed to be followed in Japan.

Before I proposed to my girlfriend of three years, Sakura and I first interacted with each other through what was called in Japan as gokon, the American equivalent of the group blind date.

I happened to tag along with one of my first friends in Japan on my first gokon. Shigeru had arranged that particular get-together with one particular girl in mind, who happened to be Sakura’s best friend. As is the norm in Japanese culture, people often go on several gokon before they even get to properly date.

I made my first mistake when I immediately asked Sakura out after our first gokon. Apparently, we had to go through several gokon before it was acceptable to go on what seemed a rather sedate rendition of dating by American standards. Not only that, it was imperative that I had the approval of her friends before they even considered leaving her alone in my presence. I had to go through several episodes of nightclubbing and ice cream parlor bonding before they would stop with the suspicious glares.

By the time it was acceptable for us to pair off, I took Sakura out for coffee in one of her favorite shops. Even then, this wasn’t even considered an actual date — just more of those getting-to-know-you setups that happened in public places and a non-negotiable part of the whole ritual.

Because of my initial blunder with our first gokon, I took it upon myself to learn more about the dating culture of Japan. With the help of Shigeru and our gang coupled with piles of self-help books and manga, I managed to ask Sakura out again to initiate the "officially dating" phase. Finally.

For most of the guys back home, this would have been an extremely frustrating situation. After all, the youth from the other side of the world are not known to be patient when it came to their amorous pursuits. However, as I suited up for my first real date in Tokyo, I understood why they willingly went through the agony of all these rituals.

I took Sakura out to one of those fancy restaurants that required me to break the bank before I could even consider a reservation. The look on her face plus the added incentive of seeing my date in a more formal setup was enough to have me secretly planning to invest more on fancy dates.

But first things first, I had to get through what was known as kokuhaku.

I wasn’t completely thrilled that I was supposed to make a grand confession of love to a girl. Our generation had spewed a bunch of commitment-phobes that was only worsened by the sensationalized fickleness of love in media. However, in Japan, if you really wanted to date a girl, you had to grow a pair of balls and tell her you loved her before she would consider any sort of intimacy with you.

With everything in place, I managed to get through dinner without looking like a complete bumbling idiot in front of the girl of my dreams, who looked every bit like she belonged in a world of glitz and glamour just as much as the next hotel chain heiress. Whenever she smiled at me, I felt a strange sensation suffuse my heart so much so that I began to curse and bless the complexity and frustration of those endless gokon.

"Sakura-chan," I managed to stutter just as the waiter was putting away the dishes. I took her fingers in my hand and saw her nervously glance at our appendages before turning back to me, her dark eyes wary. I almost lost all my courage at that look. "You know that you are very special to me."

That alone would have made for a very grand confession where I was from.

"But that alone does not quite do what I feel for you," I went on. "Aishiteru, Sakura. I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a long, long time. I’m afraid that these group dates will not do for me, although they have been made extremely enjoyable by your presence. But what I would really love, Sakura-chan, is to be able to love you more freely."

A tear slipped from her eye and I steeled myself for the blow of rejection. I felt her squeeze my fingers and in the sweetest voice, she replied, "I love you, too."

The happiness that expanded in my soul was eclipsed only by the happiness I felt when she said yes to my marriage proposal. I knew then that I would have gone through the frustration of the Japanese rituals of dating all over again for the happiness of that one moment when you finally get to call your date your very first real date.

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