In Tokyo and back in the dating game: help me be the most amazing first date ever!
February 27, 2012 10:44 AM   Subscribe

FirstDateFilter, Tokyo Edition: I've been out of the dating game for some time and am looking for some creative afternoon date ideas in Tokyo. (I could also use any general first-date wisdom to help me regain a little bit of my dating confidence.)

Two part question. The first is pretty straight forward. The second, not so much. I'd appreciate any input you've got on either.

First Question:

What are some interesting and spontaneous afternoon first date ideas for the big city (specifically, Tokyo, but any big city will do)?

The time is from about 3 to 6 pm (after 6 pm we will be connecting with some of her friends at a bar). I’ve been thinking of getting coffee at a stylish café for as a default, but 3 or 4 hours is a pretty big chunk of time to be sitting and drinking coffee, so I’m looking for something that’s a little more active and interesting/original.

Ideas I have so far: Park walk; going to the top of one of the city’s many observatories; art museum in Ueno; window shopping in some absurdly upscale shops in Ginza; Ueno Zoo. (Disclaimer: I don’t live in Tokyo, so most of the places I’m familiar with are pretty touristy.)

Second Question (long and snowflakey):

I just ended a 20-month relationship in December, and this is the first first-date I’ve had in almost two years. I’ve been out of the game for so long that my confidence is a bit shaky. I’m posting this next question in hopes for some perspective from you, my oh-so-wise fellow MeFites, to help me get some of my dating mojo back. (Not that there was much to begin with…)

**Some relevant background info **
I’m American and she’s Japanese, but spent a significant portion of her childhood in the US. We both speak English and Japanese fluently, so communication isn’t a problem. We are both in our late 20s.

We met for the first time a few weeks back at a mutual friend’s wedding. We only spent a portion of the evening talking with each other (we were both doing a lot of circulating) but the conversations that we did have were interesting, and it felt like we had good initial chemistry. She sent some signals of interest (light physical contact on my arm & back, calling out for me to sit with her when we arrived at one of the after-party bars, initiating the “are you on Facebook” conversation, etc.) leaving me confident enough to ask her out (via Facebook) the following week.

I live a couple of hours away from Tokyo, so I made up a reason to go into the city and asked her out with a low-pressure “I’m going to be in Tokyo and will be done with business in the early afternoon, so why not meet for coffee or drinks or something?” to which she enthusiastically replied, “Yes, give me a call when you’re free, we can hang out, and in the evening why don’t you join me and [mutual friend who got married and other mostly female friend group] for drinks after?” The current plan is to connect mid-afternoon on a coming Saturday. We haven’t decided a place and will take it “spontaneously” from there.

**And there’s a problem?**
No. But she’s not at all my typical type, so I’m left feeling a little anxious about being able to make a good second impression (hence the AskMe). She’s very outgoing, social, and adventurous (or at least she seemed that way from our conversations.) She’s also very physically attractive—in a different league than the women I usually date. (Looks take a back seat to personality with me (we all get old and less-attractive eventually), but I mention this because I am admittedly a little intimidated by beautiful women.)

I, on the other hand, am Joe Average. I am average looking, have an average income, have an average amount of insight and no special talent. I’m pretty reserved and not much of a risk-taker. I suffer from minor social anxiety (sound familiar?), which makes it difficult for me to be quick and witty in unfamiliar social situations such as dates. As a result, I fear that I can come across as boring to people when I first meet them. (I have no idea if this is actually the case or not.) Most of the dating and relationship experience I have is with women I had already been pretty familiar with through either university or work. Dates I’ve gone on with women I had only just met (blind dates or girls I met through singles’ social events) rarely develop into anything. One woman similar to the one described above that I briefly dated a few years back told me after we subsequently became friends that she lost interest in me after a few dates because I just didn’t show enough initiative to keep things interesting (or to translate it directly from Japanese, I “didn’t have enough ‘push’”).

**So what’s your question already?!**
I’m looking for your advice or stories from your own personal experience about how to go above and beyond on a the first date. How to leave a lasting impression. How to show an appropriate level of assertion (not in a creepy or assuming way, but in a “Hey, I’m in to you, and this is me letting you know it” type of way). Guys: What works for you on first dates? What’s your “first-date game plan”? Girls: What gestures, comments, actions, etc. have left a lasting positive impression on you after a first date? Whatever you’ve got, I’d love to hear it.

Oh, and assume that I will have the basic first date stuff down (clean appearance, well-groomed, nice clothing, ask lots of questions about her, listen intently, stay open-minded, expect nothing past it being an opportunity to get to know another interesting human being.).

Thanks. (Posting anonymously because, frankly, this is a little embarrassing.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Girls: What gestures, comments, actions, etc. have left a lasting positive impression on you after a first date? Whatever you’ve got, I’d love to hear it.

Did you come off, at the wedding, as your usual Joe Average self? If so, it very may well be that what she *wants* is Joe Average and not a super quick and witty guy. Remember that a cute, nice, stable Joe Average is what lots of women are looking for, particularly those who want to settle down, get married and have children soon.
posted by cairdeas at 10:51 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

(I'm reminded of what one of my friends, who also happens to be very gorgeous, extroverted and Japanese, said about her husband when she met him. She said she was flirting with him rampantly and she was shocked by his obliviousness and complete lack of game. They ended up married in less than a year. He's the picture of a stable, cute, nice Joe Average.)
posted by cairdeas at 11:00 AM on February 27, 2012

You may think you're an Average Joe, but your post is already above average in terms of lucidity, flow, grammar, spelling, etc. You're also an American living in Japan and have a good education--how average is that? Don't discount yourself just because you may think you're not flashy or super exciting.
posted by mrdmsy at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Art galleries are great dates, so I think your idea of an art museum in Ueno is a good one. You'll have something to chat about, and relaxed walking through a gallery is also perfect for flirting. I've only visited Tokyo briefly a couple of times, but your ideas don't sound too touristy to me. Art galleries, parks, and other interesting and casual cultural landmarks are the kind of places where I've gone on dates in other big cities, too.

As for being appropriately assertive, if the mood is right, maybe take her hand. This is a clear signal but still very sweet and not too aggressive. But other than that, the best thing to do is to be straight forward (you sound like that kind of guy anyway) and just say "I really like you, and I'd like to see you again" at the end of the evening. Since it's only the first date, and you're also not going to be one-on-one the whole time, don't worry too much about the moves. This doesn't sound like the best occasion for "push" anyway! Relax and be yourself... it sounds like she is already interested in you, and I guarantee she does not think you are boring.

By the way, can you ask your Japanese friends for this kind of dating advice? You mention that she's spent a significant portion of her childhood in the US, but what about her teen and up years? If she was in Japan during that time, she's likely to be more used to Japanese dating culture... from my limited knowledge, it can be quite different.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2012

First off, mrdmsy is right. Most average joes don't move out of state, let alone out of country. Give yourself credit for at least that, if nothing else.

As for date stuff in Tokyo, well, it's freaking cold right now, as I'm sure you've noticed. If you're thinking of stuff to do outside (my favorite parts of Tokyo are sadly outside, so I mostly go in spring and summer), you're going to need to keep that in mind, and maybe nix that from the list. Most Japanese women I know aren't crazy about spending time outside in the winter, and a first date should be, in my mind, all about setting up positive feelings that might lead to wanting second dates. Numb toes don't summon happy thoughts.

Other than touristy sites, do you think she might be willing to take the lead in finding a good spot to hang out? Your 'game' is being played in her court, maybe she can recommend something fun to do for a couple hours before meeting up with her friends?

If not that, museums are a good bet. Indoors, slow pace, lots of time for talking and sharing an experience. Depending on where the drinks are to be had later, you might look at museums in those areas. Ueno, of course, is loaded with them, but there's also a museum on the observation deck of Roppongi Hills (not cheap to get up there, by the way), as well as a ukiyoe museum in Harajuku, and the Ghibli museum out (way out) in Mitaka, though that's not necessarily a first date kind of place.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:15 AM on February 28, 2012

To echo Ghidorah, I'd also suggest a random museum in Tokyo. There are so many to choose from. Beyond the major ones, there are places like the Museum of Police in Ginza, Museum of Katanas (in Shinjuku, iirc), Beer Museum in Yebisu and even the Museum of Salt and Tobacco (!) in Shibuya. If you meet up at one place, then travel to another, the travel will kill a bit of time, and give you a chance to chat while still "on the move" to avoid the uncomfortable silences.

And as an Average Joe American who married a Japanese girl, I think the fact that she's willing to meet up with you for something like this shows she's got some interest in you, so I think your points (clean appearance, well-groomed, nice clothing, ask lots of questions about her...) are the main things to remember. I'd avoid setting the bar too high (such as an expensive touristy thing with a big price tag) else you're setting yourself up for quite the number of Ask MeFis questioning how you top your previous date. Just try to get to know her, and remember, you're the foreign one, so she'll likely be interested in your story.

Also, get your #18 ready for the karaoke at the end.
posted by Metro Gnome at 9:26 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

To this non-Japanese guy who is married to a Japanese woman, she sounds like she's interested in you. Don't be intimidated by her good looks.

I suspect she might be attracted to you because of your shared cultural background, and probably because you share some chemistry.

Personally, on a first date, I would want to go window shopping in Ginza, followed by a coffee at a trendy cafe that sells nice cakes. It should also be in a part of Tokyo that's easy to get to.

If she meets you for a second date, it means she likes you and the ball is in your court.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:47 AM on March 2, 2012

Mod note: From the OP:
Thanks everyone for the great ideas and the confidence boost. The date went very well. We ended up going to the beer museum in Ebisu and spending most of the afternoon chatting at their indoor beer garden. The museum changed significantly since I had last been and is much smaller than it used to be. We were finished walking through the entire thing in less than 10 minutes. The relatively cheap beer in the drinking area and the general atmosphere made up for it, but frankly, I was a little disappointed. (Something to keep in mind for anyone reading this in the future that's in the same boat that I was.)

True to habit, I didn't make any bold moves during the date, but I had good enough vibes throughout that I followed up today with a polite email thanking her again and clearly indicating my interest in seeing her again. Ball's in her court.

Anyway, thanks again folks.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:41 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Awkward job referral situation.   |   Unusual wedding rings in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.