Although I’ve written about dating in Japan before, but that was more about how to get a date in Japan. This time I’m going to focus on what you can say if you’re actually on a date with a Japanese person. Now, it’s good to note that most Japanese people know at least a little bit of English because they learned it in school. However, it’s still appreciated if you talk in Japanese while on a date.
Let’s start with the simple stuff first. Odds are you already know how to introduce yourself, but just in case you’re going into the date with no Japanese at all, here’s a simple way to introduce yourself.
Be careful! You say “Hajimemashite” and “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” only the first time you meet someone. At all other meetings, it’s weird. There are many other varieties to do an introduction, but this one will be painless to practice unlike the more formal ways.
Next, on a date there will always be this essential question:
Notice though, most Japanese people will drop the “あなたは今” part and just ask straight up, “何 (が or を) 食べたいですか?” I’ve even heard it said with the “が or を” article in there.
You can answer this in many ways. It’s easy enough to simply say:
I often go Italian food since pasta and pizzas are a great staple for date nights. Besides, most of them are pretty reasonable.
If you know exactly what you want, this is the better phrase to use. You can put any food at the beginning and it’ll be fine.
If you’re not sure what you want, and you want to leave it up to the other person to decide, you can say:
Or you can shorten it to simply 何でもいいです, which is a slightly different meaning of “Anything is good!”
If you’re not hungry and just want to make it a coffee date, that goes like so:
Chit chat can be difficult, but there are some standard questions that can help keep the flow going. Hopefully your date won’t leave it all to you to keep the conversation alive.
Jobs and such are generally easy to navigate. Most men call themselves a “salaryman (サラリーマン), as in business men that work for a company. Most women will refer to themselves as “O.L.” (you pronounce this as the letters). It’s short for Office Lady, which is basically just the female version of salaryman and doesn’t mean secretary like it used to in the old days.
If someone is a student, a nice follow up question is, “Anata was donona kiariafuildo wo benkyo shiteimasu? あなたはどのようなキャリアフィールドを勉強していますか” As in, “What career field are you studying?” It’s nice to ask out of interest, but not necessary.
When you get asked and want to answer, here are some simple responses:
Changing the subject over to interests, generally the phrase “____ ga suki desu ka?” works for most things like food, specific movies, etc. But if you ask it over and over again it can get dull. So here are different ways of kind of asking the same sort of question:
These usually lead to follow up questions as well, like “Who is your favorite singer? Dare ga sukina kashudesu ka? 誰が好きな歌手ですか？” or “What’s your favorite band? Anata no sukina bando wa nanidesu ka? あなたの好きなバンドは何ですか？”
You can basically listen to them talk about their favorite things for a while. When you get asked and want to answer, most of these questions get simple answers.
If someone is on a roll, telling a story or talking about themselves, and you want to show you’re paying attention, there are some filler words that you can use.
*BE CAREFUL, don’t say the word “bakka” by itself. It means idiot.
Compliments (about the conversation and such, not the people) are also considered a good idea if you want to express more interest. Here are a very common four:
And that’s where we’ll stop today. Next Tuesday, I’ll bring in compliments for people and how to get a second date. See you next week!