Top 3 FAQ: Life in Tokyo as a Black Woman


Black-woman-in-JapanThis is something I was really interested in when I was getting ready to move out here. I’ve lived in Tokyo for three years, and while there are a few blogs out there with the black man’s perspective on life in Japan, I still don’t so see much from the black female point of view. And just like everywhere else in the world, the experience for women is different from the experience for men. So I wanna put this out there for future sisters looking to move to Japan who are wondering what to expect.

Is there racism?

Honestly? Yes, which is why I can’t see raising a family here. The racism is systematic and well known among the non-Japanese community. It’s not strange for a bar to have a “no foreigners” sign or for non-Japanese to be denied an apartment because the landlord “doesn’t rent to foreigners.” And you’ll have people on top of trucks in front of stations sometimes yelling for foreigners to go back home. I do feel it’s a little worse for people of color (African descent, Chinese, Indian, Korean etc.) than it is for Whites. I had my own issues when trying to rent an apartment that I blogged about here.

But I think Japan is changing, and catching up with the rest of the developed world in terms of human rights. Many people are also kind and understanding, and ashamed of their more inhospitable countrymen. The younger generation especially seems less tolerant of racism, and I’m optimistic about the future.

What’s it like dating in Japan? Do Japanese guys like black girls?

This is tough. I won’t lie, dating as a foreign woman in Japan is hard, and even harder as a black foreign woman. I’ve dated Japanese guys but I’ve never “dealt with” a Japanese guy, ifyuhknowwhatImean. Japanese men do occasionally hit on me, which still surprises me because, just like I heard before coming over, a lot of them are very shy.

I know at least two black girls who are in long term relationships with a Japanese dude. I know others who have “dealt with” or even exclusively “deal with” Japanese guys. I myself have never made it past three dates. They up and disappear around that time. Maybe they get scared, I dunno.

One thing that’s frustrating is never knowing if a Japanese guy likes YOU, or just thinks you’d match nicely with his Timberlands and his New York Yankees hat.

If you don’t wanna date a Japanese dude, you’ll probably end up with an English teacher or a military guy. They’re the most common sources of non-Japanese men in Japan. But if a guy, non-Japanese or Japanese, says, “I don’t like Japanese girls,” SERIOUSLY reconsider him because, 1) that’s ignorant, and 2) he’s probably lying.

Want more info? Here’s a post on Zooming Japan:  All You Ever Wanted to Know About Dating Japanese Men

Where can I get my hair done?

Within the Tokyo area this isn’t so hard. There are a few salons you can go to, the most well known being Room 806, literally a room in an apartment building. You can also buy product there. They had a website but it’s gone, so here’s some info.

20140328-121918.jpgRoom 806
5-16-52 Roppongi, Minato, Tōkyō-to
Imperial Roppongi 202 building

Another one is Hayato, again in Roppongi.

This one comes from New York, and comes highly recommended by a friend of mine, whose hair is always bangin’. Ask for China.

For ladies looking to live well outside Tokyo, I think what happens is girls link up and do each other’s hair, or handle it on their own.

As for me, I’m in the “handle it on their own” camp. I’m too cheap/poor for the salons out here, which are a bit more expensive than what you’re probably used to back home.

I stopped relaxing before I came, and I load up my suitcase with product every time I go back home. I also have two flat irons I brought with me that get really hot–up to 450F.

I know those were my biggest concerns coming out here. Is there anything else you wanna know? Hit up my inbox through the contact form and let me know.



8 thoughts on “Top 3 FAQ: Life in Tokyo as a Black Woman

  1. Lina


    I’m considering teaching English starting next fall in Japan or Korea. I understand that both countries are not racially diverse, so I have been thinking about how I would be perceived and treated as an African woman. From this post, I understand you are in Japan. How are your day-to-day interactions with Japanese people? Have you encountered any discriminations/harassments in the workplace or outside of because of your racial background?

    Thank you for your time and thoughts.

    1. Nandie Post author

      Hi Lina, I haven’t had any problems with teaching for companies, but I do have trouble getting private students. Day to day is fine though

  2. CM

    This is extremely helpful, I am planning on moving to Tokyo soon for work. I usually travel alone but I like to know as a black woman what I’m possibly getting myself into. I think I would love it there and I should have a bit of social life since I have a few friends already in Japan. I really enjoyed your perspective and will continue reading! Are there social groups where non-japanese connect? Like how did you develop relationships with people outside of work?

    1. Nandie Post author

      Hey! Outside of work I met people through friends of friends pretty much, and I think I met one or two people through blogging and twitter, but I haven’t really joined any specific groups.

  3. Kip

    Very nice perspective! I happen to belong to neither the English-teaching nor military category, but am a black man living happily in Tokyo and always wondering why I never see any black women in the corporate world that I operate in or out there in the crowded jungle that this city is. Keep up the good work though!

  4. kitchenpilgrim

    I say, dive in. All black are NOT going to have the same experiences. We each have our own personalities, looks, experiences, and ways of connecting with people. I have no problem anywhere I go being liked for who I am. Stop thinking the mountain is so high with everything. You end up never even taking the first step because you’re daunted by the worries and fears.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s