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Staying with boyfriends family 2008/3/27 04:16
This summer I'll be going to Japan for the first time and I'll be staying with my boyfriend's family for 3 weeks. We honestly haven't been dating THAT long (about 5 months now) but from what I understand he's never been as serious about another girl. He's had many past girlfriends, including one that he dated for three years but none of them have ever met his parents so I'm not exactly sure what his family is thinking about this.

Either way, like I said, this will be my first trip to Japan and while I know a lot of the basics (no chopsticks sticking straight up, no passing food from chopstick to chopstick, taking shoes off when entering a house) there are A LOT of customs that I am completely unaware of and they're so ingrained in him that he doesn't think to tell me.

Anyways, I really want to impress them and I definitely don't want to offend them because, honestly, even though we haven't been dating for that long we are very serious about each other and our future. I would really appreciate any tips you have. Thanks!
by Kim  

Keep it simple 2008/3/27 13:09
Bring a gift to the family, like something special from your country.
Be respectful and enjoy the experience.
Good luck.
by In rate this post as useful

Some japanese words... 2008/3/27 13:29
I think you should not try to hard to impress them. Just be yourself. The gift is a MUST in any a case.

Try to learn some japanese words or phrases. That shows that you are also interested in the culture (where your boyfriend comes from).

If something tastes good, say it! "Oishii" In Japan people enjoy eating in general, just watch japanese TV. If something tastes totally awful...also express it. I hope you don't have a problem with japanese food anyway :-)

Good luck.

by Rakuda rate this post as useful

I'm going to disagree there... 2008/3/27 14:01
I wouldn't recommend showing in any way that you think any of his mother's cooking doesn't taste good- that's pretty much universal in any culture I think!
by Sira rate this post as useful

Thanks 2008/3/27 14:24
I guess I forgot to mention that I am studying Japanese. I only know very basic Japanese, but I think it's definitely enough to show that I'm interested in the culture.

Also, I LOVE Japanese food so I don't think that'll be a problem.

Thank you for the responses!
by Kim rate this post as useful

I hope not to sound negative, but... 2008/3/27 16:43
hmm, are you sure that his parents are prepared for this? It's not likely that parents in Japan let their child's sweathearts stay over unless they're married or at least engaged. Of course there are plenty of exceptions, but since he says you're even the first girl they're going to meet, they are probably not used to these things; these things meaning their son being intimate with a girl. Plus, boys often don't bother to think carefully about his parent's true feelings.

If I were you, or should I say, an average local woman would probably ask her boyfriend to double-check and make sure his parents are okay about her staying over. If not, she should get a hotel. If yes, she will stay over, but either way would probably do her best not to act too intimately with the boyfriend, meaning no kissing, hugging, holding hands in front of his parents, but just try to show that she understands the boy. Also offering help in the kitchen would be appropriate.

But take it easy. I'm sure his parents will be happy to finally meet the girl he really loves!
by Uco rate this post as useful

Been there 2008/3/27 21:28
I was in a similar situation. But I had already met my boyfriend's parents a few times before I stayed overnight at their place for the first time. Nevertheless I was surprised because like in your case it was only about 5 months into the relationship.
So I thought for him and his family it's probably not a big deal but then he told me I was only the second girlfriend he ever even introduced to his parents. The other girlfriend was also allowed to stay overnight once but she had to sleep in a different room. My bf told me his parents had behaved totally different towards her than they did to me. They were really kind to me, treated me to dinner several times, took me to nice places, gave me presents and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. And I was allowed to sleep in my bf's room which surprised even him. I never expected anything like this.
Maybe they treat me this way because I'm a foreigner (and thus a guest in their country) and they want me to enjoy Japan to the fullest. Or maybe it is because my bf used to stay overnight at my place a lot when I lived in Japan and they feel obliged to return the favor. Or they might simply be the most wonderful people on earth.

Anyway, I guess if your bf was afraid of his parent's reaction he wouldn't have invited you to stay at their place before they even know you. So at least he doesn't seem to expect trouble which might be a sign that he and his parents have a pretty good relationship.

I can only agree with Uco's advice. Double-check with your bf if it's really ok to stay or if he just carelessly invited you without even asking his parents first. Bring a present, show interest in the culture and language, offer help, try everything you are served and don't hold back with praise for the cooking. Other than that just try to be yourself and avoid physical contact with your bf in front of the parents.

I hope you'll have as much fun in Japan as I did. :)
by kaya rate this post as useful

. 2008/3/27 22:10
I am actually in the exact same situation, only I am going in winter - and I have no Japanese knowledge (I am a Chinese major!) My boyfriend told me his parents speak no English, so I'm pretty much freaking out. But they told him they wanted to meet me, so I guess that's a good sign??

I am told my boyfriend doesn't act like the typical Japanese man (he is very affectionate in public) but I'm thinking he would probably act different in Japan? I have no idea =X I'm pretty much flying blind.
by Pearl rate this post as useful

Konnichiwa 2008/3/27 23:07
Where in Japan are you going? There are different expectations in different areas in Japan. Some are traditionally very conservative, and others are wildly liberal. On the surface, most Japanese will be very polite and hopitable to foreigners, but try to read the heart of the Japanese. This is difficult for Japanese and near impossible for newbies in Japan. Yes doesn't always mean yes, and no doesn't always mean no. If I were you, I would have a back up plan if things don't end up as you expect it to; have enough cash for a hotel or some place to stay. There are monstor mothers and there are heavenly mothers in Japan. You will want to get a good start in your relationship with the mom. Hope it all works out for ya.

by Married to a Japanese rate this post as useful

. 2008/3/28 05:40
I asked him to double check several times a few months ago when we started planning this. He is very close to his family and they seem very friendly and open. They just asked him to make sure MY parents knew about it.

He also actually stayed at my house for 3 weeks over winter break, so they may feel like they're returning the favor. I'll make sure I have enough money in case things don't work out but I also have friends in Japan that have apartments so there is definitely a backup plan.

Also, about the intimacy issue, neither of us are especially intimate in public and we're definitely not in front of parents. He's opened up a lot in the US but I know from when I first met him what to expect in Japan.

Pearl, I understand! From what he's told me, none of his family or friends speak English. I do speak a little Japanese but I don't feel like it'll be enough, especially with dialects.

They live in Oita on Kyushu. Unfortunately no matter how much I try to research it I can't seem to get a grasp about the people's views like I can with other places in Japan.

I'm told by my boyfriend and other Japanese friends I have that I seem to understand Japanese thought better than most Americans and that I actually act pretty Japanese (in that I have tatemae and other things like that). That said, I'm still pretty American and the Japanese perspective can confuse me but I can usually tell when yes is not yes and no is not no.

Thanks again for the responses!
by Kim rate this post as useful

great! 2008/3/28 11:14
Kim, that sounds very reasonable, especially that they've already stayed with you for weeks makes all this make sense. And they seem to be disciplined enough to care about what a daughter's parents might think. Sounds great.

Pearl, if your major is Chinese, you might be amazed at how much you can communicate writing Chinese characters (kanji).

Another tip. I notice that housewives including my mother and my mother-in-law seem to love it when a guest asks for a recipe of a homemade dish that was served.
by Uco rate this post as useful

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