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“To us, female insight and comfort is really important.” In Japan, it is customary for men to pay for their dates, as Pairs’ male users do.The company’s bridal marketing sends another message, less progressive and increasingly less American: dating means man plus woman. “We have had a few users ask us if they could have that kind of feature,” Kawashita says when I mention the exclusion might be controversial in the U. “It’s not that we don’t want to, just that it’s still very few, so we haven’t focused on that yet.”Cultural differences are the reason many Western dating sites have failed in Japan and in Asia, Kawashita says.Another app, Furendo Tossu (or “Friend Toss,” from the word Japanese people use for a volleyball pass), is a site for meeting new people with common interests, ostensibly as friends.It shows you your friends’ Facebook friends, and if there are any who you think you’d get along with, the three of you arrange an activity together–lunch or a drink, usually.

On a recent trip there, I often asked people if they or their friends were involved with web dating, and time and again they shook their heads.

To understand Japanese dating sites, the first thing you need to realize is that many don’t seem like dating sites at all.

Some of the biggest ones appeal to mainstream users by positioning themselves as more social than romantic.

“I think the experience [of online dating] is almost too confrontational for the Japanese,” says Roland Kelts, a Japanese-American journalist, University of Tokyo professor, and author of Japanamerica.

“It’s a culture that still prizes indirectness and a greater level of subtlety.”But I’m more interested in sites designed explicitly to match couples.

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