Fighting: Things my Japanese Husband and I Culturally Disagree About

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Any relationship is hard. However, breaching two distinct cultures only adds another, complicated layer to the relationship schematics. While most of the guys I dated before I met Ryosuke came from a different country (three from Mexico, one from South Africa, one from France), I never really had any idea I was going to enter an interracial marriage.

But then I met Ryosuke. We knew each other a couple months before we started dating; less than a month after we made our relationship “Facebook Official,” he unofficially proposed and we started planning our lives together. Despite the fact we have been married for a while now, we’re still finding new things out about each other each month.

For a window into married life as the foreign wife of a Japanese husband, I highly recommend the autobiographical comic book I wrote (about my life in Tokyo): My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book

But the more we learn about each other, the more we learn we are inherently and culturally different. My dad always told me to marry someone with a very high ability to “change” or adapt to a new environment; both Ryosuke and I have done a great deal of changing for each other. But we’ve also done a lot of learning.

[For more, check out: Asian Male, White Female Relationships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly]

Look at that face! Does this look like the face of someone that would (purposefully) destroy an apartment?

I think one of the most rewarding aspects about being in a cross-cultural or interracial relationship is the fact that I am forced to examine my own culture (and values). Every time Ryosuke and I disagree about an aspect of our relationship, we are forced to confront why exactly we believe we are right (and I’m not allowed to say “Because I’m a woman, therefore I’m always right!”).

[For more, check out: I will never be (legally) his: Problems Facing Interracial Couples in Japan]

I wanted to make a mini-series about all the things Ryosuke and I seem to disagree with culturally. I wanted to do this partially for reflection, partially because I thought it might interest people who have no experience with Japanese culture, partially because I thought it might interest or align with what people with a great deal of Japanese cultural experience have noticed, and partially because I wanted to help future foreign women dating Japanese men. I wanted to give them a list of things to expect with their Japanese boyfriend.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

The main thing my Japanese Husband and I have different ideas on is…


I like to fight. Or, I don’t actually like to fight, per say, but I think constructive fighting and arguing has a very vital role in any healthy relationship. I believe both sides should be able to safely confront the other about behavior that bothers them, issues they’ve been holding in, or other concerns without bottling it up. In a perfect world, we would be able to sit down once a month or so and just talk about the things that were bothering us – and such a conversation would rarely lead to actual yelling. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve actually yelled at each other during a “fight” in the last year and a half. We didn’t start out that way, though.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Needless to say, Ryosuke’s views on fighting and arguing are quite different. He was raised in a somewhat non-confrontational society. While he is one of the most confrontational Japanese people I know, sometimes he will shy away from conflict. Especially when said conflict seems to be rocking an otherwise stable boat (hint – the boat is our relationship). This also isn’t a uniquely Ryosuke aspect, most of my friend who have dated a Japanese man or have Japanese boyfriends have complained about this: Japanese men don’t like to fight.

If sometime bothers Ryosuke, he would prefer to keep it in. When he’s sad, mad, frustrated, or angry with me, he will kind of shut down, and I have to awkwardly sit across from him for the next half an hour or so, waiting for him to compose himself and gather his thoughts. All of my friends have complained about similar things. It seems like most Japanese boyfriends have inherent problems with effectively communicating their feelings. In my opinion, this isn’t good.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

I knew an American girl who had been dating this Japanese man for two years. She was bragging to me how not once, in their two years together, had they ever gotten into even a simple argument. “We always agree on everything,” she bragged, “we’re not like those other couples who fight all the time!” I started to wonder if maybe she was right, was I pushing Ryosuke to fight too much? Would we be better off not confronting each other that often?

Three days later, she went to meet up with her boyfriend. She was very excited because they hadn’t seen each other in a month or so. She thought he was going to propose.

But he dumped her.


Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

74 Comments on Fighting: Things my Japanese Husband and I Culturally Disagree About

  1. Hahaha reading your blogs is like reading a game of thrones book. I wasn’t expecting that ending lol. Most Tongan people do not have that middle degree of emotions. They will either express every emotion openly or hide it. I agree with you. It’s healthier to express yourself.

  2. Wow. Yeah, my Chinese-American significant other is similar. He takes a really long time to process his emotions and I do it very quickly. So I’ve learned to check in once a day when we’ve had a disagreement (i.e., I’ve yelled) and say, “Are you ready to talk yet?” I think we went a week before he was ready to talk about the worst fight we ever had.

    On a side note, there’s a psychotherapist I know who’s working on a theory about the correlation between processing times in men for emotions…and, um, the amount of time men eliminating waste from their bodies. So if your significant other spends a lot of time in the bathroom, chances are he’s going to need a lot of time processing emotions if there are issues. Or so her theory goes. I kinda think she’s onto something.

  3. Grace, these are my experiences with my husband PRECISELY. I used those exact words (“he shuts down”) to describe his reaction when he is upset with me (I, on the other hand, have a redhead’s temper). We have very few problems in our relationship, but this is one thing that has always stood out. It’s great to hear someone else with the same relationship dynamic….

  4. I think it’s interesting that you have cultural disagreements about fighting. While I agree that Japan is a non-confrontational society, and Japanese people (especially men) are not effective communicators (as if American men are, and I’m American…),
    I’ve often been told by friends after disagreements

    So the idea that fighting can be constructive is also something that exists in Japan.

  5. Hey im indonesian and my husband is japanese, now we’re living in japan.
    Im so glad that i found ur blog and read down the comments and finds some peoples who in similar situation.
    Well first, i want to share that my japanese hubby the person who like to fight even sometimes i feel strange that he fight me like im an enemy for him, we fight like twice a week, even sometimes more, i think because we both temperamental, but what i don’t like is he sometimes became violence while we’re arguing, like grab my neck or colar shirt, and slap me, push me. He was never been like that, before we married, i live with him 1year he was totally adorable japanese guy. But after we married and move to japan (its been 6month)
    My life was disaster, it’s totally different with what i was dreamed of.

    1st – before we married he said to me that he know that we have different culture so he will respect mine such we indonesian never make ‘bento’ lunchbox for husband, but ever since i came to japan(especially when we living with his mom house the first 3month we moved to japan) she always force me to wakeup 4am in the morning and make a lunchbox for my husband.
    Since that even now we already live 2 of us on our own apartment he became used to it, so he would treat me differently if i didn’t make him a lunchbox

    2. Before we married when when he did a mistake, or he did something that upset me, he will sit down and listen to me carefully and he convince me tht he will never do that again, and the opposite if i made mistake he don’t mad at me and we usually talk it, but now after married everything turns to be a fight really a fight u know he slap me and that kind of things

    3. He used to scare of hurting me. One day before married when we arguing he accidentally make me fall to the floor when he raise me up because he want to stop me from leaving the house but he kinda loosing balance and i fall in my butt from his arms (quite high) and he was so desperately sorry and feel disappointed his self tht he make me fall, he even crying out loud and said “i hurt my love” he said with tearing eye looking at me, i kinda shock tht he cry in front of me just because small accident.
    Well speaking of butt, but now what? When just simple arguing it will end with He SLAP me in the face hardly with his man power, and grabbing hard my neck, really trust me i got some brush from his hand work.

    3. We (husband and i) both came in broken family, our parents r divorce and we both grow up seeing parents fighting so when we dating we talk about that we know how much hurts and pain we got growing up in broken family, so we promised each other that we don’t want to repeat our parents mistake, and we don’t want our kids experience the same pain, and we both have same dream “we want to make a happy family”.
    Sad though….. realize now im now in the same position as my parents used to have, im glad i don’t have kids yet, i couldn’t imagine if my kids see their parents fight almost everyday, i know the feeling, or even to see now that my husband easily do violence towards me, how could i let my child see that. Now i wondering do we still have that dream of happy family.

    So i don’t know what happend to my japanese husband this 6month of marriage that he changed. 1 thing i sure that it’s not becuz he have someone else or cheating, well even tho his personality changed i still know he is faithfull, i think ever since we moved to japan he being workaholic, actually we didn’t have wedding party yet (u know married in japan is just paper) but i told him that have a wedding party is my dream so he promised me he will make it happen until next year(since we don’t have enough money), so that’s
    Why he became workaholic, he work 6days a week and a day 14hours he spent in work place from 6am to 8pm (coffee shop) he’s so busy. Do u think becuz of the weight of my dreamy wedding party that he became tired and start to loosing his self?

    • Hi Tabitha,

      Thank you for sharing. Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve heard something like this.
      Your husband and you definitely seem in love – but what he is doing to you (slapping, violence, etc) is actually abuse. It is never ok to physically attack someone you love, even in arguments.
      I don’t have much experience in this field, but I really recommend you contact the TELL lifelines (free, anonymous consulting/talking on the phone with professionals), so you can talk through what you’re going through and figure out a solution.

      • Hey grace thank-you for ur reply and the source i will try it later.
        And thankyou once again i really appreciate it, i hope we could meet in person someday and became friend in real life. I adore u and ur husband u guys r such a lovely couple. I hope me and my husband could be like that.

        • I hope everything is all right with you know, honey. If he treats you like that, he doesn’t deserve you. My mom always said “You don’t know someone until you marry them.” I think you should get help like Grace said….and possibly get away from him if he’s hurting you.

          Much love, and I hope you’re alright and safe.

    • Hi Tabitha! My name is Mike and I live in Texas here in the US. I am very sorry to hear the abuse that you are suffering at the hands of your husband. That is not right or acceptable EVER for ANY reason. I Don:t mean to sound cruel, but don’t defend him or help him make excuses for this, I.e. ‘he works so much’ or ‘my wedding wishes cause him stress’. Thinking like this or saying something like this only enables him and degrades you as a human being and as a person.

      I do not know the laws about this kind of violence in Japan or your home country (but I *hear* men in Japanese society seem to have less concern and regard towards women than might be found elsewhere. (This is not from personal experience obviously, as a side note I recall recently reading a blog post of a woman that has had to deal with two sexual asualts I Japan and how little was being done about it)

      If my wife had hit me I might let it go and forgive her and talk about it with her the FIRST time, but if it happened a second time I would immediately go to a trusted neighbor or friend, have them take pictures of the injuries and bruises while telling them about it, then I would immediately CALL THE POLICE from their house and HAVE HER ARRESTED!!

      There is NEVER a good or acceptable reason to hit your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife! NEVER!

      He needs therapy and you need to get AWAY from him NOW!! Move out and stay with someone else or go back to family/friends in your own country. This seems to me to be the way he PLANNED it to happen. Nice, kind and polite while at your home and now verbally and physically ABUSIVE committing ASSULT against you in HIS home… Are you two living by yourselves now or still living with his mom? She sounds controlling and she is enabling him to behave badly! Do NOT let her run your life!! Be respectful but do not let her direct you or control you!

      Depending on the laws there, I think you should call the police and have him arrested at the very LEAST. I would IMMEDIATELY leave him and move back to my own country, I would not talk to him about it or let him know at all, I would get my passport, get money out of the bank to travel with and just GO! If he wants to talk later let him attempt it while you are in YOUR home with family/friends and YOU are in control of the situation! I seriously doubt he will change since it looks to me like he had planned his actions this way. I wonder if his family knows he is doing these things to you? …though his mom probably doesn’t care.

      As Grace said, get some help as soon as you can! I don’t know if there are any Women’s Protective Services there in Japan but I would look immediately, especially if you cannot go back to your country right away!! If he is slappingbyou, choking you, etc then that is not a far reach from breaking bones, cutting or just choking and killing you!

      I have SEVERAL female nurse friends that work the emergency room at hospitals here and they see situations JUST LIKE YOURS too often. Protect yourself, tell friends and family, tell the police, document when it happens day and time and TAKE PICTURES for evidence! If you foolishly (sorry, not trying to offend you) decide to stay then buy one or two of those hidden cameras that record video and sound so that you have STRONGER evidence when it happens again. I recommend the same thing to kids and coworkers that are being bullied at school or work. Batteries don’t last as long on portable devices but they make video cameras in pens, lighters, USB sticks, watches and many other items. For the house they have stuffed animals, wall clocks, alarm clocks, phones etc. Even most cellphones can be set to record Audio Only all day long and the battery does well!

      Take care of yourself and keep us updated! If I lived there I would help in person!! We may just be strangers on the internet but I want you to know that we all love you and care for your well-being!

      Take care,

      • Hi mike, glad to know u. And very thanksfull for ur concern and support even tho we’re strangers. Well u r right, every time i desperately wanted to runaway or go back to my home country leaving him behind, but sadly i don’t have a job here and everything i use and buy is from his money, and there’s a time when we fight i want to leave and he said i should leave my wallet and phone as well becuz everything is belong to him and also my visa in my passport he took it out and said he the one who make me can come to japan so i shouldn’t have it if i want to leave him he said *i know.. what a jerk. So that time i couldn’t go out cuz if i go i cant do anything outside in the foreign country, the most important of all he teared my visa from my passport so i would have problem with the immigration if i really leave. So it’s been 3weeks since he slap me the 2nd time luckily nothing happen since then, but im searching for help in case he abuse me again, until now i couldn’t find who could help me with knowledge of divorce or abuse rule in japan, and im gonna try the source tht grace told me.
        Afterall to just knowing tht someone is listening is make me glad cuz i never really could share my story since i don’t have friend here in japan. Sometimes i really feels lonely and helpless

        • Tabitha, I just finished reading your reply. I wish I was there or new more people there to help with the situation!
          I have done some research and put together a little information for you to read, the first link is to actual services I believe and the others are general information to educate you He IS breaking several laws. I’ll let you read the information so you can get started with an action plan.

          Osaka Information Services about abusive spouses (verbal and physical)
          Go Here First!!

          Basic information about laws and statistics in Japan :(

          Information about questions and answers to problems and issues with marrying a Japanese spouse. A lot of good advice on things you don’t typically think about right away.

          I was about to list off some of the crimes I think he’s committing but you will know after reading all this. My personal suggestions that I can think of at the moment:
          1. Start hiding money, a little at a time… Say take a little from the grocery money every week that won’t be noticed and find a place to hide it that he cannot find.
          2. Possibly find a job, I’m not sure how difficult this is over there or if he will have issue with it but it could give you opportunity to hide more. If you do get a job appear to spend most of it so that it isn’t obvious what you are doing.
          3. This is harder.. Until you can work something out with social services, your consulate or other options, pretend to have forgiven him and forgotten about it and go back to the appearance of being/living happy.

          …anyway I hope the first link will be helpful, I’ll keep looking. This is a good place to get lots of input though so hopefully some others might have Ideas on getting you home (or know some big yakuza hehehe;)


          • Just wanted to say that you have a great Heart, Mike; thanks for reaching out to someone in need. 10 points on the Paladin scale for you :).

          • I know this comment is old, but I hope she gets help. If all else fails, CALL YOUR MOM and tell her to come get you. Or your brothers or other family and friends in Indonesia.

            You need to get away from him. I hope you’re okay!!

        • Onepjsei Waitanira // 25 November, 2015 at 12:37 pm //

          Hi Tabitha, I’m Indonesian too, so I’m gonna reply this in Indonesian Language, just to ensure the confidentiality of my information (at least from you-know-who). I was a victim of an abusive relationship too, in slightly similar case with yours. I hope this information is sufficient and may help you in cases of emergency. Mbak, pertama yang harus dilakukan untuk berjaga-jaga, spot kantor polisi terdekat kemana pun mbak pergi. Ke mall, ke pasar, ke rumah teman, ke mana pun. Selalu perhatikan jalan dan temukan kantor polisi terdekat. Kalo ada apa-apa langsung pergi ke kantor polisi terdekat itu dan minta dihubungkan dengan kbri. Jangan memberikan pernyataan apa-apa hingga pihak kbri datang. Stiker visa yang di paspor itu nggaada juga ngga masalah harusnya, karena sistem di jepang sudah online toh. Selain itu, kalau memang paspor sudah rusak, mbak wajib melaporkan ke kbri dengan menyebutkan alasannya. Kalau mbak ngga lapor, malah mbak yang salah karena dianggap sudah merusak dokumen negara.

          Saya juga dulu korban penganiayaan mbak, saya juga pernah berharap orang yang melakukan itu bisa berubah. Paspor, dompet dan dokumen bahkan ijazah saya pun dia tahan. Tapi karena memang sudah menyangkut keamanan nyawa, terpaksa suatu malam saya lari dan ngga balik lagi sampai sekarang. Semua paspor dan dokumen saya tinggalkan. Untung kbri sangat membantu dan saya bisa kembali ke tanah air. Paspor baru dikeluarkan, bahkan universitas tempat saya bersekolah juga mau mengeluarkan kutipan ijasah. Jangan takut mbak, kalau memang sudah waktunya, Tuhan pasti kasih jalan. Jangan pernah takut.

          Onepjsei Waitanira

    • Kierra Mizushima // 10 March, 2016 at 7:34 am //

      Oh, my goodness. My heart breaks for you, Tabitha. I hate that you have to go through all this pain, that your husband hurts you like this. And though you two seem very much in love (Like Miss Grace said), I can’t believe he would hurt you like this.

      I understand what’s you’re going through. Though he was abusive from around the two-month mark, American (like me), and we never married (though for five months, he was my fiancé). He started off as this sweet, lovable, funny guy, who treated me nicely and liked a lot of the same things I did. But, well, he changed; or rather, things changed.

      I was a sixteen year old girl and he was a freshmen in college, a hulking football player who cleared about 36 cm (1 ft, 3 in) (I’m 144.78 cm, which is roughly 4 ft and 9 in). And, well, he began trying to change me into his more ideal woman, and, because I was young and naive, it worked, for some time; he made me work out, eat healthier, watch his shows, come to all his games and practices, even with a conflicting schedule, shut up about Japan, writing, foods/cooking, and Greek mythology (a few of my interests that annoyed him, for some reason). If I didn’t, he yelled at me, I attempted to to tell my side of the story, he began to insult me, I’d get angry, and then he’d hurt me; a punch to the face, a kick in the stomach, slapped, hair-pulled, spit-on—the usual.

      And I couldn’t tell anyone; or, at least, I thought I couldn’t. He had some intense leverage on me, and he made me believe it was my fault (it’s never your fault, I now know).

      Fast forward to when I’m eighteen, and about to make my move to Japan, and just…leave him behind. But he proposed, I accepted (I was too afraid to say no) and then I told him that I was moving, “But I’ll come back to marry you, I promise.” That soothed him somewhat, but he still proceeded to shake me by the shoulders for leaving him during our argument.

      It’s spring, I’ve been in Japan for give months, and happy. I made heaps of friends, including this great guy called Aoto Mizushima, who was sweet, funny, cute, smart, helpful; the whole package. And he is was handsome as anything, too. And he was interested in me, and I him, though we were both too shy to do anything except for go out as friends. We both had voiced dating however; but I didn’t want to cheat, and my husband, being an average-heighten Japanese man, did not want to make my current boyfriend mad.

      And then my boyfriend-now-fiancé came to visit, for three weeks, and I guess I was excited. I Skyped him often and he texted me all day. I was also excited because I was going to tell him I was going to break up with him on his last day, then seek refuge at one of my best friends’ homes until he left.

      So I did exactly that, and went back to my apartment. I had texted Aoto that I was going to break up with my boyfriend, and he got super excited, called me instead of texting, and we made plans for that evening, but then…

      Well, I came back to my apartment, and he was still there, waiting for me. What I had done, you see, was written a letter, left it next to sleeping head so he would be sure to see it, and left. But I came back, and there he was, on my couch, and then the bloodbath began; he began to tell at me, telling me that I was making the biggest mistake if my life, and I was a piece of trash and I was lucky to have ever landed someone like him, and that he would kill me before he let me leave. Naturally, I was terrified, but he was grabbing my hand, and saying, “You’re coming back with me, no matter what.” And I was shrieking for help; he pushed me against the wall (actually shattered some paneling, my head hit so hard). I was bleeding and bruised by the time there was a knock at the door, and I was shouting for Aoto to leave. But, it wasn’t just him. My neighbor, a kind older lady named Gina, had heard the noise, and the fact the girl who dropped by to give her chocolate chip cookies every week was in trouble did not make her happy.

      So, there she was, next to Aoto, flanked by three officers. I was taken to a hospital, and my (now ex) boyfriend was deported. Two weeks later, Aoto and I were exclusive.

      And, yes, I’ve only recently gotten over this who expirience enough to talk about it.

      And I tell you this because I got my happy “ending.” I want you (whether it be with your current husband or another man that makes you happy) to get yours, too. You deserve one. :)

  6. I know this has been written fro quite some time. I just want to say :

    LoL … i couldn’t have said it better!! Shutting down is one … don’t get me started on the pretending i don’t exist for a while and then out of sudden he will be talking like nothing ever happen.

    Well, its either I get that or he wakes me up in the middle of the night, digging up stories which I always thought settled plus blames, accusations and everything. After that’s done he will simply say ” I’m going to sleep. Good night”. Tomorrow morning? He will be like normal and I will be like fuming from the lack of sleep ( yeah… its hard for me to go back to sleep after I’m awake )

    Don’t get me wrong… I wouldn’t change him for a bit. But him keeping quiet when I am basically with fire coming out of my ears is not a good combination. This usually result in me storming out of the house to cool down. Only to find him chilling at home when i come back.

    On his good days he is the most sweetest, caring, most gentle man i know. Oh Wait! There’s one thing i would like to change about him. His infatuation with plastic bags. He simply have to keep everything in plastic bags. Can you imagine trying to sleep with the shrek,shrek sound of the plastic bags??

    Anyway, its good to read that i’m not the only one… but you put it way much better than I could ever do.

    P/S : I’m Asian too… but not one to shy away from conflict. Our culture and the way we were brought up were totally different.

  7. Hah, that is interesting!
    For us I am the opposite, I just get angry or upset but don’t want to talk about it. I do talk but only after a few hours when I calmed down and figured out my thoughts and what I want to say to him. I know that when I am angry I say things I dont mean. But as much as I try, words won’t come out of my mouth during or right after a fight. Hubby always wanted to talk right away but I explained my “problem” to him and now he waits for me to speak. Usually we can face the problem and laugh about it afterwards :)
    I am not avoiding fights, sometimes I even know this fight happened because I wanted it to haha but I hate how I see hubby differently for the first few days or hours after a fight. It’s like he is not 100% the same person than before, do you guys know that feeling?!

    • I think my husband is the same way (ish). I recover very quickly after a fight. Water under the bridge, you know? But it takes him quite a bit longer – sometimes hours or even 1-2 days to FULLY recover after a huge fight. Those kinds of fights only happen 1-2 times a year, but when they do…? Oh boy…

  8. Ahhh!! My ex (who is Taiwanese) did this!! He would just leave the room and shut up and I got angry that he was just steaming without talking about the problem.

    I actually had kind of the opposite problem with my Korean boyfriend… he doesn’t really “fight” with me but he will try to explain his side and let me explain mine, and at first, the tone of his voice made me think he was really angry. He talked to his mom in that tone as well, and I would tell him not to fight with her, but he said, “No, no, this is just how we talk!” I think it’s from being in Japan too long, but I’m not used to people arguing their opinions so openly.

    • Huh. That’s good with your Korean boyfriend (yay for figuring things out) – but I still get terrified when my in-laws argue in Japanese. For some reason, when it’s another language, it’s so terrifying…

  9. This blog is awesome it has all the answer to My questions ^^ thanks you Grave. Btw do you speak japanese?

  10. Hi Grace, found your blog post after an argument with my Japanese husband. Ha ha ha I’m always trying to understand him better to hopefully get along better with him. Actually I’ve lived in Texas too, I’m also a white American girl. My husband and I have been married for 7 years now and we have our second child on the way…. kids make things so much tougher. We live in Funabashi, I’m a house wife and he’s a workaholic. I survive by reading posts like yours. Not many can relate to our situations. Thank you! A.T.

    • Thanks for the comment. Wow, there’s a ton of similarities.
      I’m glad my husband isn’t a workaholic (yet) because when he was doing overtime in the beginning, I was going crazy stranded out in Ibaraki. Congrats on your second kid. That’s got to be really interesting raising them in Japan :)

  11. Hi Grace!

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog when I was googling Japanese wedding guest attire. You’re the first girl I’ve come across that is also an American living in Japan that married a Japanese salaryman. I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Tokyo last year when I married my husband after meeting him at USC. It’s great to read your blog and find many similarities! Thanks for sharing your experiences!


  12. Hi Grace!

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog when I was googling Japanese wedding guest attire. You’re the first girl I’ve come across that is also an American living in Japan that married a Japanese salaryman. I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Tokyo last year when I married my husband after meeting him at USC. It’s great to read your blog and find many similarities! Thanks for sharing your experiences!


  13. I know this thread is quite old, but I married a guy who was born in Japan and raised partly in Japan (his father is American, mother Japanese), and we have never had a real fight… been together 5 years, married a year. He also needs to take time to collect his thoughts about what is bothering him, then he asks if we can talk, and we talk about it, and then it’s finished.

    His patience and peacefulness in communication have been sometimes difficult for me to adjust to, but honestly I would feel terrible yelling at him, or yelling in general – I know that nothing we discuss, is he trying to hurt me or be mean or cruel.. he’s incredibly kind and loving, so consequently I don’t *want* to be angry, or yell.

    I get frustrated like any wife, and I am sometimes unnerved by his seeming preternatural calm when we disagree about something and we have little ‘huffs’ – but I so respect his ability to remain calm and talk about something in a dispassionate way, I’ve come to want to be this way myself. I feel happier, I feel less stressed, and I do not fear we’ll have a ‘blow up’ and will say something unintentionally hurtful to each other.

    Personally, I think it’s a mistake to corner any man to try to force a conversation when he’s not ready – I think that acknowledging something needs to be discussed, and agreeing when it will be discussed, is important so something doesn’t fester, but men are not women, and most men – Japanese or not – don’t like to be forced to have a conversation they haven’t prepared for, whether it’s about plans for the weekend, vacation, or something you’re fighting about.

    Love is patient, love is kind… I’m not an observant Christian, but I take that message to heart: i don’t want to take the chance that my anger will result in my saying something hurtful, and so i am patient in our conversations, and I’ve found it makes BOTH of us feel safer, and freer, to admit our true feelings and communicate our needs honestly, because we know it will not escalate.

    Good luck to you and your husband!

  14. Wow…. I’m a female from an Asian background, and I have to admit I shut down during argument. I’m not proud of this trait of mine, but I just can’t find the will and energy to engage. When voices are raised, I shy away. End of story. Then I avoid the topic like a plague (or maybe the person altogether). There are times when I apologized though I did nothing wrong just to keep the peace then cursed myself & my silly pride. I enjoy healthy discussions, but when things start to get heated, I just switch off.

    I don’t think it’s part of my culture, since my parents argued like CRAZY, not just verbally, stuff are flying around, fists raised etc. (Actually I think that’s the root cause of this trait….) Don’t ask me how they stay married for 40+ years (story gets juicy from there)

    Needless to say, I acknowledge that I’m not a relationship material. I’m single & always have been & probably always will be (which is not a bad thing for me, since I have a good career, and zero pressure to get married from myself or my family – mum gave up on me a long time ago)

    Sorry for the rambling.

    • Not at all. I always love hearing from the other sides of the coin (so to speak).
      I’m glad you have a great career + no family pressure to tie the knot. That’s a good place to be.

      I mean, I don’t think screaming matches are good for anyone… but I think arguments are like tsunamis. They suck, but they also scrape everything off the bottom of the ocean and do some sort of “emotional spring cleaning.”
      I was volunteering in Japan after the tsunami and I met an oyster farmer who said the oyster harvest is always the decade (or so) following a major tsunami, since it cleans up the oyster farm floor. I thought that was really interesting.

    • Girlfriend, you are perfectly good wifey material! ;). If I wasn’t married I’d happily chase you, and I’m sorely tempted to change religion to mormon, you’d make an awesome second wife, hehe ;). …not quite sure how I’d explain to my current wife as to why theres another woman sleeping on my other side in bed! (Grinning)

      Seriously though, I HATE arguing and fighting I’ve thrown people out of my house for starting stuff like that and ended relationships on the spot for arguing that just wouldnt stop!

      Both of my parents have been married and divorced many times! (Rolling eyes)

      If you can’t have peace in your own home, where can you?

      I’ll see you when I get home Wifey Kaye! ;)

  15. Just found this blog via Pink Cow. Love this.

  16. Anonymous // 8 June, 2014 at 10:48 am //

    Sorry to say this, but your husband really looks like monkey.

  17. I know this is an old post, but feel like I can pitch in, because it reminded me of our (my now-wife and myself) early courtship. She was sooo afraid that she might be doing something I didn’t like but I was not telling her (“Please, please tell me if I am doing something wrong!”). I was also taken back at first by how much SHE WANTED TO TALK, and got frustrated when I was not as responsive as she wanted. (Though, I must say, the whole ‘an communicative BF/husband frustrates GF/wife’ thing is a fairly common trope in the US, too, isn’t it? Looks like half of rom-coms/sitcoms are built around ‘monosyllabic men and their chatty GFs/wives’ setup.)
    Ah, fighting–I must say I don’t like arguing, either, and I don’t find it as constructive, as you and other (female) commenters here seem to believe, but it makes me uncomfortable to be placed on the ‘opposite sides,’ as if we are enemies. So I really do NOT recommend those women with Japanese BF/husband to push him to argue. He may just take it as a sign that you don’t love him as he is, or, at least, you don’t value the bond he and you have already built together (i.e., he may think you are trying to break up). My now-wife used to try to bait me into a fight, but after they led to several bad (i.e., not constructive at all!) outcomes, she, perhaps grudgingly ;-), has changed her tactic.
    Nowadays, when she doesn’t like certain things in our relationship, instead of a fight/argument, she brings it up as a topic for a sort of a brainstorming session–no ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ but we, being on the ‘same side,’ offer ideas to improve. Funny thing is, I think my wife likes that way, too! haha. If Ryo-kun is somewhat like me, instead of starting with what he does that makes you unhappy and demand a change (and expects him to push back in hope of a ‘constructive fight’), I would recommend you to ask him/solicit his suggestions re: what you TWO can do to make you TWO happiER than now. After all, that IS what you want in the end, right? An argument/fight in a couple can accidentally go where neither party wants to go (e.g., awakening your deep-seated insecurity, touching a past incident you’d rather not recall), so why take a risk? And that may be precisely why Ryo-kun is acting the way he does. Give him some credit! :-)

  18. You guys look really cute!

  19. I’ve never understood the need people have/feel to fight to communicate and clear things up. This year will make 20 years I’ve been with my wife. (Though not married anywhere near that long, heh) We have never had a fight, less than a dozen times that I can think of that we strongly disagreed on something that took more than a day to resolve, but still no fighting, no yelling, no going to bed angry and none of the crazy drama that I see so many going through. We discussed this when we first started dating too. I don’t like to fight and its not necessary for good communication, sex isn’t a tool and shouldn’t be used as a treat or a punishment, things like that. My aunt and uncle are on the other end of the spectrum; they *thrive* on fighting! If I took someone new to see them you would think someone would be killing someone soon! After a while as family we learn to tune it out and consider it entertainment! (Kid you not!). I don’t get how they both don’t have ulcers, I know I would! …and it’s not like I’m a quiet, shy reserved person either… (Hah!)
    Mike in Texas

  20. I’m married to a Chinese man and I know how you feel. I’ve definitely learned the meaning of “pick and choose your battles”, and if it’s a small issue, I just give my husband space and by the evening or the next day, things are back to normal. If it’s an issue that’s reoccurring, then I’ll talk to him about it. Even then, sometimes it helps to have a couple of days of space (not ignoring each other, but not directly facing the issue yet) until you’ve both calmed down and then bring it up again.

    • I agree. I’ve gotten a lot better at picking my battles – which is difficult, because I have to consciously decide to let something go.

      A couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I were in Texas visiting my parents, he was shocked by the amount of arguing between my parents and other siblings (and between my siblings and I). I tried explaining to him that this was just the way we were raised, but he was still a bit off-put by the constant discussion. I don’t blame him, it can be tiring, but it was a nice window into cultural differences.

      Thank you for sharing. I knew avoiding direct confrontation was a somewhat Japanese trait, but I didn’t realize it could also encompass Chinese men. Interesting.

  21. Ah I’m married to a half japanese, half guamanian (chamorro) guy, he TOTALLY would do the whole quiet, avoid it, sleep on it thing too! I guess it is totally cultural. He’s opened up a lot more now though :D And I’ve learned to listen… -_-

    • I’ve gotten a lot better at listening too (no fun). I guess it really is a cultural thing.

      • I think especially since I’m half german and half mexican (but born in the US), I was so used to passionate arguing and I thought thats what you did if you wanted to make it work. I was so confused when he wouldn’t say anything! But now we’ve been married almost 3 years (been friends for like 9) and we have a total multi-racial baby! Anywho, finding your blog is so refreshing as a “white girl” with a japanese guy!

        • Oh that must have been fun. I love reading about intercultural relationships :)
          Congrats on the happy marriage and child!

          PS – if you have any other blog recommendations, I would love to read them!

    • I am dating a korean man and it is the same for them as well. They do not handle conflict
      well bc they just try to avoid it all together. I enjoy healthy discussion about differences. we have both grown a lot because of it.

      • I’m glad to hear you have been able to grow through healthy discussion. More and more, I’m starting to think this aversion to fighting is a sort of “Asian” concept.

  22. clippership // 25 November, 2013 at 3:20 pm //

    When discussing stuff, it helps to remember that conversation in America is like playing tennis; lots of back and forth. In Japan, conversation is like bowling; only one person is speaking at a time and all others are listening. However when it’s your turn you can pretty much speak about whatever you want and the listeners will back channel verbal noises that say they’re politely engaged (but the noises should NOT be confused with agreement. They’re just saying “Uh huh, i am still listening.”). Interruption is considered rude unless you’re the higher status individual.
    Also it helps to pay attention to the wide range of verbal noises. They can mean everything from, “That’s NEVER gonna happen…” to “Shut Up! You gotta be kidding me!”

    • That’s probably the best analogy I’ve seen for the differences between Japanese/American conversations. I’m going to share this with my fiance when he gets home from work.

      I used to make the mistake of interrupting friends when I was talking to them – but after a couple months I learned it is best to just kind of spout out the verbal “un” “soka” “hmmm” etc. It’s interesting.
      But thanks for the explanation!

  23. Your posts are always very interesting to read, thank you, because of course you need time to write.
    I would love to ask you about a topic and I am sure more people would agree with me.
    What about writing a guide on “how to date japanese guy ?”
    And I am talking about trying to estabilish a serious relationiship, not that interracial relationiship that last a couple of months (or more).
    Once I was invited from a japanese guy (almost man) but to be honest I refused because I didn’t know how to behave. If we go dinner/drink I have to pay for myself ? Does he choose where to go ? If he asks me about, can I choose or is he asking just to be polite ? If we are late and metro is closed and HE call a taxi, do I have to pay or will he pay the driver before ?
    And if we take the taxi togheter and he left me home first, then he, do i have to give him my part of fare ?
    I am sure there are much more question I -and the others, too- need to ask, but i can’t remember now.

    Grace-sama please, help us !

    • Hahahaha, oh my gosh, that sounds like a GREAT idea!
      I will ask my fiance to help me out (I’m saving your questions in a Word document) and will write it in the next couple days! Thanks for the idea~

      (dating inter-racially, especially with Japan, is so hard…)

  24. I’ve always thought my boyfriend is a complete push over, but reading this I am wondering whether it is a cultural thing more than a personality thing. (Assuming this stretches to Asian and not just Japan). If I give him options to do anything, he’ll always say he’ll do whatever I want to do, and if we have an argument he gives in almost instantly. Strangely, it winds me up even more when we are having a disagreement if he won’t argue back! At times, I also feel like I have to be careful that I’m not taking advantage of him when he acts this way.

    • I completely agree. I think it is a sort of “Asian value” among men. It took nearly a year of dating before I was able to convince my boyfriend fighting (in small doses and when done correctly) is actually a GOOD thing in a relationship.

      I still estimate that I win our arguments about 90% of the time, which really isn’t a good sign at all. It’s so hard to not take advantage or pull pot shots on someone who won’t argue back. I agree, it also winds me up pretty hard.

    • …well without knowing both parties involved its hard to tell if the guy just doesn’t want to argue or if he’s whipped ;). My aunt and uncle were the argument king and queen! If you didn’t know them you would think they were two steps away from taking a swing or shooting each other!
      Arguing, I’m a guy and I just can’t do that! When my wife and I started dating I told her right off the bat that I didn’t like arguing and that if she liked that then she might as well move on. (…well I didn’t SAY it like that, heh;) She told me she didn’t like that either. Usually if my wife suggests doing something I’ll agree with it, Im actually pretty easy going that way… Hey, if it makes her happy, Im game. …don’t get me wrong, if I really don’t want to do it Ill flat out tell her to go do it on her own! You want to see *what* movie? Uh… Take your girlfriend because Im not going to watch that! If she wants to do something and I’m neutral on the topic Ill do it with her because it makes her happy, however if I flat don’t want to do it or I honestly have something else I want/need to do then she’s on her own. Ive never really prescribed to that compromise crap that the politically correct crowd feel the need to sell everyone on. I suppose we all compromise from time to time, but as a rule of thumb, to me, its just selling out what you believe in. For the *most* part I wont do it.

      To me the same goes with arguing, I don’t see the point, its unnecessary and a poor way to try and communicate with my best friend, so we just don’t do it. If its something serious, we just calm down a bit before we talk about it. This has worked great for us for over twenty years now! :). Most people that Ive known in my life, parents included, that tend to argue wind up breaking up or getting divorced. (I have about lost count of my moms marriages, lol:)
      …I may come off as an ass if you look at it casually, but being honest and just telling my wife that I have no interest in going to visit her family with her is best for everyone, heh.

      ….arguing…got me to thinking back to when I was a teenager, my neighbors were Puerto Rican, and MAN, could Elba argue!! Listening to her go at it mixing spanish and english at the same time was mind boggling, rofl!!

  25. Ouch!! He dumped her…..sometimes we can mistake passive aggressive behavior for compliance, and get too self-absorb and not realize the other person is unhappy.

    Or maybe she was already self-absorb person.

    So it’s not about “fighting” but truly asking your partner, are you happy, and if not how can we fix it?

    • gracebuchele // 7 August, 2013 at 1:27 pm //

      I would go out on a limb and say she was one of the most self-absorbed people I’ve ever met. Even so, breakups are always hard.

      I think I agree. It is more about communication than actually arguing – just because the other person doesn’t actively say “I’m not happy” doesn’t mean they are, in fact, happy in the relationship. It’s hard, right?

  26. Nice to read your take on dating a Japanese guy. It’s really frustrating searching for other North American women who are dating Japanese guys. Especially with the fighting thing, I think it’s really important to fight. Not a spiteful fight, but just to get things out and learn. But, my boyfriend hates it, too.
    Shameless plug because I just wrote about something similar tonight, and found your site searching about this topic! Good luck!

    • gracebuchele // 29 July, 2013 at 8:30 pm //

      I loved your post. It rings very true on so many levels.

      I’ve actually met several older women married to Japanese men – but never met someone my own age dating a Japanese man (who, you know, stayed in the relationships…)
      I think fighting/communication is the most important thing (kind of like what you said on your post). It’s hard. Do y’all live in America/have you talked about marriage? Or is it kind of left at the “impossible” level?

      • I’m living in Japan. But, since my bf is a programmer I’m trying to get him interested in moving to the US. It’d be a great career move for him. But, he lived in the US as a kid, and he’s kind of wishy-washy about moving. He’s talked about marriage, but I tell him not to rush things haha!
        I can literally count on one hand the number of non-Japanese women I know married to Japanese guys and living in Japan. The non-Japanese guys married to Japanese women on the other hand… :P

        • gracebuchele // 8 August, 2013 at 8:41 am //

          I know, right? It’s a big difference. Good luck with the move! (and I have noticed there are several Japanese men rushing into marriage. Or just everyone is rushing into marriage. It’s hard to tell).

  27. That was a really interesting article. As a Chinese girl dating a White boy, I’m very excited to read more of your miniseries on interracial couples and the cultural differences that affect the relationship.

  28. Totally makes sense from past interactions I’ve had with Japanese people.

    And may I say your fiance is pretty hot! :)

  29. I oddly loved how you ended this. “He dumped her.”

    • I found the story kind of sad…
      I don’t know the “right” way to do a Japanese man/American woman relationship. But I’ve learned one way that hasn’t worked out…
      And this is basically how it goes with relationships. You think you know something, and then suddenly it doesn’t work.

      • Of course the story was indeed sad. Just ending your writing on that note just left me in a funny spot. But to expect a proposal and to be dumped…such a shock

  30. you two look absolutely adorable and i love the way you wrote this. i am also in an “inter-racial” relationship – i am chinese and my 2.5yr boyfriend is australian. i must agree that constructive fighting (similar to criticism) is healthy for a relationship to prosper and develop. i can’t wait to hear more regarding this topic!

    • I wish you all the best in your relationship. 2.5 years in a Loooooong time!
      Do you have any advice about interracial relationships?

      I’m planning on doing a mini-series on this, with a couple of the other topics we disagree on (cleanliness, relationship with parents, racism, cheating, etc).

      • i don’t really have any great advice on interracial relationships as this guy is my first and only boyfriend. i just believe that the key to any relationship is honesty which can be achieved by talking to each other – whether it be about something mundane, superficial or huge as. i think your partner should be your best friend and he/she should be the first people you want to tell something to.

        as for topics, i totally agree with the cleanliness topic as well as marriage is not only with your fiance but also with their parents and family members (depending on which one is asian). i also think that it might be good to do one on divorce and the cultural differences with regards to divorce (and cheating). oh and another topic could be about having children and the difference in the asian upbringing vs caucasian upbringing. i don’t know if this is what you are looking for but i hope it has helped! :)

        • Now that you mention it, the divorce thing sounds really interesting (you know, considering the high divorce rates in America vs Japan). I’m trying to do a “relationship related” post every Wednesday, I think that’s going to be my next one. Thanks!

          Actually, Ryosuke’s kind of my first boyfriend too. I mean I dated before, but I hadn’t had a relationship last longer than a month (that was my breaking point, if I didn’t love them after a month, they had to go. It was kind of heartless). I do agree with you on the honesty and communication area, though.

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