In Japan, you can’t get in the front door and immediately start stripping each other’s clothes off in the hallway. Me: But isn’t it kind of rude to imply I needed to shower first? I didn’t understand that it was your Japanese signal that you wanted to have sex.Well, you can, and your Japanese partner will probably acquiesce because they are Japanese, but deep down they will be hideously uncomfortable and thinking, “Sex? Like, it was a date, obviously I had showered before going over to his apartment! If I had understood that, I would definitely have said yes.

When it came to the guys I dated, even though it was completely outside their experience, they sort of (kind of) eventually adjusted their thinking and accepted the fact that I was active (because I was Foreign and Foreign Women Are Different) but the thing I could never completely change was the fixed idea they had that someone must be passive.

Yes, I could be active in bed, but they had no template for how to react to that other than the female/passive/uke template.

For example, let's consider the United Kingdom: In Japan, there are over 11,000 male British long-term residents and nearly 4,000 female residents, most in the 20 to 60 age group.

While that's nearly 3-to-1 in favor of men, marriages among residents show an even larger gap.

For me, with my western sensibilities and preconceptions, calling someone a 'tuna’ in bed sounds like an insult, conjuring up images of cold dead fish, but in Japan that word has a very positive connotation. Part of what was so bamboozling the first time I had sex in Japan was that I didn’t know there was a Way of Sex, with strict gendered roles, and I just was happily doing my own thing, throwing my partner into total confusion.

Seiji told me much later that dating me made him feel like he was gay, because I was active in bed, and he couldn’t connect that with anything except masculinity.Seiji: *spits tea all over the table*Me: …this is one of those deeply unspoken Japanese things that I’m not supposed to talk about directly, isn’t it. Another thing that is considered rather icky and unhygienic is ejaculate. They will be desperately scrabbling for a tissue almost before you realise they’ve come at all, since it is really bad form to get ejaculate anywhere, without cleaning it up immediately afterwards (and immediately means immediately).This is yet one more thing that men are responsible for as the 'active’ partner.Flirting in other countries I’ve been to should be easier to write about, I might come back to that in a separate post.Meanwhile, if there’s anything else you want to know, feel free to ask.So…”Flirting in Japan Flirting seems like a misnomer. If you like someone in Japan, there are a couple of different ways of showing it and/or approaching them, none of which really resemble flirting in the west. Nanpa (the “pickup”)First off, only guys do nanpa; in the rare case that girls do it, it’s called gyaku-nan (“reverse nanpa”), but I never heard of gyaku-nan actually happening, it always seemed like it was more of an amusing theoretical idea, rather than something girls really did. (It’s especially rare for guys to compliment girls directly.) I wish I could think of a good example! But I had a network of Japanese friends (mostly female) and every time I encountered a cultural difference I immediately pumped them all for information, asking my millions of questions.