When to Tell Her Your Last Five Girlfriends Were Also Japanese

By Geoffrey P. Baron

You’ve been dating for about a month now and it’s going great. She laughs at your jokes and seems to really respect you and your many opinions. At some point, soon, you’re going to need to reveal a little more about your past. Specifically, that your last five girlfriends were also Japanese. What’s even weirder? She kind of reminds you of a couple of them. Life is a strange and wonderful mystery!

Should you tell her about Himari first? She was lithe and lovely. Her favorite things were calligraphy and ikebana, which you know is the art of flower arranging. You so appreciate ikebana now and demonstrating to (Japanese) women that you know what makes the more beautiful and balanced arrangements, even if they never asked you to explain it. It’s a shame Himari’s student visa expired and she had to go home. You meant to visit and swore you would, but then one day, in the Japanese Botanical garden at the University, where you like to pace and ponder life every Friday afternoon, (around the time most classes get out, especially the English Learner’s Program, as it just so happens), even though you are over 35 and never attended that university, you met…

Koharu. She was a little shorter than Himari, and cut her hair with bangs, which made her wide, almond-shaped eyes look so demure. She was with her parents giving them a tour of campus, when you offered to bring them to the best sushi restaurant in town. Those three months with Koharu were filled with sunsets and long talks on the phone, you helping her with her research papers, and her Sailor Moon cosplay, which you thought was pretty sexy, strange as that may seem! In the end, though, she didn’t seem to understand your jokes because the language barrier was too great. A good sense of humor is very important to you in a life partner.  It’s a fortunate that shortly thereafter you met….

Misaki. She was at a convention you went to Koharu, but you didn’t talk to her then, (that would be been disrespectful), so you saved her card, which listed her Instagram handle and reached out to her that way, later, when you were single again. Koharu was great, but there was something just… missing. These things are complicated, after all. Misaki, with her bobbed hair and perfectly pale and flawless, unwrinkled skin, practices kyudo (archery, to you Americans! It’s really considered an attractive skill in Japanese women, didn’t you know?), was a self-proclaimed yama, or “mountain girl.” There was something so fresh and lively about her – she was strong but soft and fearless. She laughed at your jokes whether she understood them or not, which is really just basic politeness, after all. She made her own mochi, which you gobbled up happily even if you thought it was sometimes too chewy. You really thought it would last with her, and then one day, while you were with Misaki at the climbing gym, you saw…

Yuna… and you were sure she was the one until you met her coworker, Mio, at the Japanese curry restaurant. You were sorry about what happened to their friendship, but the heart wants what it wants, right? Love is a complicated thing, see, and you never know where it will lead.

Right now, it’s leading to Saki, who you are certain is skilled at bonsai and origami. Her delicate hands seem so artistic and capable. Saki could really be the one, so it’s best to ensure she knows, sooner than later, everything you know about Japanese culture and how you, a boy raised in Milwaukee, WI to German and Norwegian parents, attended an Evangelical Lutheran church every Sunday, who went to the University of WI- Madison and played water polo but seriously considered, twice, doing kendo, really, truly understands her and where she comes from. How could you not?

After all, you have so much experience.


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