I found an old unpublished post that I had written up many months ago, and after re-reading it I thought it had some good insight into how a typical Asian dude likes his Asian women.
Japanese in China
I’ve lived here a long time. Ok. Maybe not that long in comparison, but I think 5 years is a daaang long time. During my years here, despite the majority of the time being spent in China, I’ve mostly interacted with Japanese people. Call it destiny, call it an act of god, call it what you will—I am eternally connected to Japan, even in this country of sickles and hammers. Thus, most of my stories are associated with Japan or the Japanese in someway, somehow. Please reference below:
I Like Stupid Girls (Chinese Version)
I like to believe that a majority of western men don’t date women for looks alone, and intelligence plays a small role in the selection of a partner. In the USA, I would even daresay that the percentile is below 10% when it comes to dating based on pure physical attraction alone. Personality–most importantly, intelligence–plays a huge role in who we want to date or spend the rest of our lives with.
Not for Asia.
It was about two years ago when my friend got a new girlfriend. He had been single for quite some time and, despite being 25, had never truly had a girlfriend. When his friend set him up with a fellow girl from Hunan, he was elated to meet her. On the first date they hit it off, and by the second date things were starting to get serious. As his best friends, he wanted us to meet his new girl and give him some very important feedback.
We had some huge cow-head-hot-pot (or something equally disgusting) when I met her. She was small, petite, cute–a shy little figure that managed to glow in a pure, innocent kind of way; almost as if rainbows were shining out of her in all directions and smacking us with this dumbfound joy. When I talked to her, she just kind of smiled and giggled and looked cute, and I couldn’t help but smile back. It was like looking at a baby panda. I ood and awwed and continued talking to her (even while sucking brain juices out of the cow’s head).
After sending her off home, all the dudes and myself exchanged opinions about my friend’s new gal. He was blushing a bit pink; everyone said she was gorgeous and sweet. I also offered up my lines of, “she’s really cute, a good find” and patted him on the back. The next line from his friend’s mouth, however, threw me back a notch:
That’s Chinese for
“She’s a bit stupid.”
Now if you’re surprised as I was, don’t worry, that’s normal. I shook my head in disbelief and blurted out, “you shouldn’t say that, it’s rude!”
My friend laughed and said, “Mary, in Chinese, 本本的 may mean stupid, but it also denotes a feeling of being cute. I mean, she’s just so unaware of what’s going on around her, like a lost little puppy. You look at her big, beaming eyes and you can’t help but think ‘awwwwwww.’”
“But, doesn’t it have a bad meaning as well? To be called, well, stupid?”
“Of course. But in this situation with my girlfriend, it’s more of a cute stupid than a real stupid,” my friend added.
I wasn’t quite sure. Either way, my final understanding of the conversation was that stupid=cute. Really, Chinese women were happy or completely fine with the fact that their boyfriends called them stupid? No, they weren’t just fine about it, they were elated about it. It was the equivalent to a long versed poem written about their beauty in Tang Dynasty fashion.
“Well I wouldn’t be happy to be called 本本的,” I interjected. “It’s kind of insulting in the USA.”
He went on his long ramble about how China and the USA are different, blahblahblah, but the point remained the same: As a woman in China, being called stupid was not only normal, it was a compliment, and it was something to strive for.
I Like Stupid Girls (Japanese Version)
I was having dinner with three Japanese dudes yesterday. We talked about this and that and finally we veered onto the topic of girlfriends.
My best Japanese friend K has a Japanese girlfriend that, well, is super Japanese. I really don’t know how else to describe her. I bet if you open up ‘Japanese woman’ in the dictionary, her face pops up. She’s shy, cute, and well mannered. She is extremely polite, talks in a quiet voice and quivers in backward motion when the attention is focused on her (like a scared kitten). She does her nails multiple times a week and dresses in long, flowy layers covered in floral patterns (just like most Japanese girls). Like 90% of other Japanese women, she’s extremely cute. Her manners make me look like a cave woman. Whenever we go out to eat, she somehow manages to pour everyone’s water and refill the glasses right at the exact moment they become empty. She will distribute everyone’s food into separate bowls while I’m digging into the main dishes with my dirty chopsticks. As soon as we sit down for dinner (no matter where, noodle shack or not) she will place a clean napkin on her lap, peck the corners of her lips when food smudges in the crevices, and cover her mouth when she laughs. Mannerly, obedient, cute, giggly—she is the epitome of what every Japanese man wants.
So, I asked the dudes yesterday, “Have you met K’s girlfriend?”
“Yeah, she’s really polite,” said one. “Very cute.”
“What do you think, TK?” K said to friend no.2.
That’s Japanese for:
“Kind of an airhead.”
The word “天然” actually means natural. Maybe I just took the meaning the wrong way? Maybe they meant to say she’s very natural, very down to earth?
“No, it means kind of stupid,” TK confirmed for me. “Just, you know, kind of in her own world. Not really here. Not really thinking.”
“Isn’t that, uh, not a very good meaning?”
“Depends on the context,” the other friend (we’ll call him Kuma) said. “In Japan it kind of has this cute connotation.”
Oh god, I thought. Here it comes again.
“Most Japanese women don’t mind being called this. It means they’re cute. It isn’t necessarily bad, it just depends on the situation.”
So it wasn’t just a Chinese thing, I thought to myself. I guess most Asian men just want someone that stares blankly, nods their head when spoken to and looks like a fluffy puppy. I mean, who needs intelligence when you have someone with big, round eyes smiling at you and laughing like an angel whenever you say something?
My conclusion just adds to the evidence as to why western women just don’t get Asian men very often. Us American women value education and intelligence, we’re straightforward and loud, and we don’t (well, most of us) wear cute floral pattern dresses with hair bands decorated in butterflies and rainbows while giggling at every single thing. Compared to a Japanese woman, us westerns are rough, tough, mean, loud, bossy and annoying. I mean, why date a woman who’s going to argue with you about Chinese and Japanese governmental policies when you could just have someone that smiles, laughs and brightens your day with her clothing–all without challenging your ideals? I kind of see the appeal. Maybe.
The guys resume their table conversation:
“So what’s up with that American porn? Now that’s some weird stuff.”
“Yeah, so gruesome. Japanese stuff is so tender, so deep…”
“Uh, hi guys” I wave.
“Oh. Right. Mary’s not a dude. Still wanna listen?”
Finally, Shared Nostalgia With a Japanese Person
“So,” K turns around from the front seat of the taxi and points at me. “Mary’s a gamer. She cleared ffTactics in high school or something.”
“I love tactics, it might have been my favorite” said TK. I think I swooned a bit after TK said that line. And a little more when he mentioned Chrono Trigger.
Despite Japan being the center of the world for anime and gaming (well, used to be for gaming anyway…), most Japanese residents don’t know much about the two genres. People are very much divided into two categories—otaku and non-otaku—so if you watch adult themed anime (aka not naruto or one piece) then you’re automatically put in the otaku group. And to be fair, many people in the otaku group are just plain weird. Like, they marry their Nintendo DS kind of weird.
So to meet half decent Japanese people that not only shared my love of the Final Fantasies, but Chrono Trigger—it was an absolute first. We started talking about the music, the story, Frog and Magus, Robo in the future, the WTF sequel of Chrono Cross. It may have been one of the happiest moments of my life.
A Truly Magnificent Evening
Aside from talking about video games and airheads, last night was a really damn good evening. In the beginning, K said his best friend Kuma from Japan and his other friend TK were going to join us for dinner, and I was a bit nervous to say the least. I don’t have social anxiety, but meeting new people always has me feel a bit jittery and nervous.
Meeting people in Japanese is also, well, straining to say the least. You’re dealing with another culture in another language, and when talking with Japanese people–who are quite possibly the most indirect and repressed group of people on this Earth—well, let’s just say it aint easy to strike up convo. Most of my Japanese nomikais (drinking parties) involve conversations I’ve had 100 times before, and we only change topics through the consumption of more alcohol.
But this time was different. As soon as K’s friend Kuma sat down, we started talking about everything. The car horns of Shanghai. Tsingdao beer. Murakami Haruki’s writing style. How the shape of the food was designed to look like the arrow boat tactic from Romance of the Three Kingdoms (I mean seriously, who else would get that besides me and Kuma?). It was so refreshing to talk to someone that I truly clicked with. When K’s other friend TK came, it was the same. Our conversation flowed like the Huangjiu we were drinking.
It was one of those rare meetings you’re lucky to have in life. Where everyone sits down at a table and automatically clicks. Where conversation isn’t forced, it just comes gushing out and everything makes you laugh. Makes you smile. Makes you think. It was the first time in months I thought, “oh my god, I’m having a blast.”
The craziest part: I was with Japanese people and experiencing this. To be fair, K is an amazing individual so I’m not surprised that his friends are anything short of awesome, but still. The way we all talked and carried on conversation… it was perfect. A perfect meeting, a perfect night, a perfect memory.
At 2 AM I got in a taxi and headed home. I heard my phone ring and saw a text from K:
“It was really great to have you join us tonight, Mary.”
I replied back (half drunk) with the only thing I could say:
“It was a magnificent evening.”