Some time after moving to Japan from Spain, I decided to open Tinder for the first time. I took a few photos where it was clearly shown that I have green eyes and curly hair, trying to attract attention for being exotic. I wrote a dull biography in English that I translated into Japanese with Google Translate, added some cute kaomoji and hit the swipe.
Before coming to Japan, I had only ‘played Tinder’ with some friend’s accounts, a game that basically meant asking for their cell phone and trying to make the swipes that they would make. For them, this brought some unwanted matches. For me, this game was a way to learn many of the boring, ridiculous or nonsensical patterns that we Europeans use to flirt.
When I arrived in Japan, there were quite a few things that I quickly detected as typical of Tinder here, things that I had not seen before and that I had to learn to fulfill my goal of making virtual flirting progress properly.
With Japanese Tinder you may feel more hungry than horny
In Japan it is best to use Tinder on a full stomach. I would say that there are more photos of food than people, and when you spend a while swiping, you may no longer know whether you are looking for love, sex or a place to eat yakiniku.
In this country, food is a priority, and this way of conquering the stomach virtually, well, works. You become a Pavlovian dog that begins to salivate and, without realizing it, you have matched with a bowl of udon.
And speaking of food, let’s talk about men taking bites of things
In my tinderic journey, I detected that some men have photos in which they eat something in a rather erotic manner. Unfortunately, it is not shocking for anyone to see sexualized images of women licking lollipops or eating churros —yes, churros, I will explain soon. But seeing a naughty male taking a bite out of a tuna sandwich while he squints at the camera, that doesn’t happen that often.
My inference from this was that such a practice is a hidden sign that perhaps they like to perform oral sex, something in Japan that does not seem to be as common as in other countries. This I totally made up, it is a hypothesis that I can not confirm or refute but I want to believe. If a volunteer offers to carry out the appropriate experimentations, send me the results.
The emoji to express joy that is suffering
If someone compliments you on the Tinder chat, with what emoji do you accompany the corresponding ‘thank you’? Smiley face? Smiley face flushed in any of its variants? Hands folded in reverence?
In my experience, the most common thing in Japan is to use the sad big eyes emoji. As if you are almost on the verge of crying with emotion because someone has told you that they like your green eyes and your curly hair — I knew it !! Is that emotion, that suffering, excessive? Maybe, but wherever you go, use the emojis you see.
Multiple hair personalities
In Japan, there are magnificent hairstyles and hairdressers, who can have a very high number of followers on social media. Many Tinder users here use their profiles to show their hair evolution. I came across quite a few users who had a different hairstyle in each photo, so much so that they came to look like different people.
And when you come across this gallery of personal hairstyles, you unconsciously always choose your favorite. But what happens if you make a match and it is not the person with the long and lustful hair, but the one with the serious haircut that adheres to the company’s dress code? The person is the same and may be wonderful, yes. But can your mind get the other options that were more attractive to you out of your head? Almost better swipe left.
Disneyland: flirt with Mickey’s ears
Many Japanese people on Tinder, at least those who live near Tokyo, have photos at Disneyland in which they usually come out with the corresponding Mickey or Minnie ears or similar.
The strange thing is that, as I understand it, Disneyland is a very typical place in Japan to go as a couple, so perhaps that photo they considered attractive to flirt with on Tinder was taken by his ex-partner some time ago during a romantic day.
There are girls who appear on their Disneyland pictures eating churros, which are also very typical in the park, no idea why. This was the churro’s sexy thing I was talking about earlier.
Purikura, emojis that cover the face and the search for English teachers
On Tinder in Japan, you can see extreme facial modifications and high use of emojis to cover the face or parts of the face, especially the mouth. Personally, I have to admit that I enjoy coming across that many purikura pictures. It’s like you’re using Tinder with people from the future.
What I don’t like so much is that when you are a foreigner aka gaijin, you will see many people who are on Tinder to practice English. Thanks, but no thanks.
Well, the time has come: the story of how I got banned from Tinder
It is a mystery that I have not been able to unravel 100%, as Tinder doesn’t clearly explain the reasons behind a ban. I wish I could tell you that I had conversations that were too risqué, that I uploaded photos that were too provocative, that I broke so many hearts that my matches blocked me. Nah, the reality is much more boring.
It turns out that, since my level of written Japanese is practically zero, I decided to make a note on my mobile with the answers in Japanese to the most common questions, which I then copied on Tinder. Therefore, identical messages were repeated in my chats, which probably smelled a bit bot-like to the algorithms.
As if that were not enough, one of those messages had to do with talking on other platforms instead of Tinder, something that is usually commented on regularly and that does not grace Tinder itself, as I could find out later doing some research. And less if you do it with the same exact message, spam-style.
These were my crimes. At least the only thing I could deduce after reading Tinder’s terms and conditions when it was too late. The most extreme part is that once they kick you out, they kick you out forever. But well, the same day I got banned, I hooked up with a wonderful person at a nightclub, the old-fashioned way. Unfortunately or not, I have no choice but to master the art of offline courtship. At least green eyes and curly hair, for all I know, can’t be banned.
Proofreading: Tom Lawler (@wasfffe).
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