A Time for Love

A Time for Love

From lingerie to chocolate, love hotels to parties, Metropolis presents a grab-bag of Valentine's Day fun


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2010

Date Friendly

On the subject of love, Lady Gaga purred: “It’s complicated and stupid… got my ass squeezed by sexy Cupid.” Regarding the complexities of attraction, Pitbull remarked, “I know you want me, you know I want cha.” When asked where he would want to spend time with his “boo,” Usher auto-tuned, “I wanna make love in this club.” Though most of us may not have as catchy an answer as these, here’s what a few city-cruisers had to say about how they would like to spend their Valentine’s this year:

Chinatsu Aoki – Suggestion: Waffle Café.

Chinatsu Aoki, a 28-year-old freeter, giggled at the thought: “I really like Waffle Café (2-26-21 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku; 03-5738-5320) in Shimokitazawa. I would want to have lunch there, and then head over to Disneyland in the evening.” Waffles are tasty, and Shimokita is hip, but why all the way to Disneyland? “Because it is fantastical and helps you forget about the difficulties of life.” Perhaps a kiss from Prince Charming would help in forgetting the “red apples” of daily life, too.


Hideaki Wakabayashi Suggestion: Top’s

Hideaki Wakabayashi, 42, an independent business owner, raised an eyebrow: “I would take my dogs to Kamakura and go pray at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine (www.hachimangu.or.jp). While I was there, I’d also like to buy omamori (protective good luck charm) for my dogs, to make sure they remain safe and happy. On the way back, I would stop at a branch of Top’s (Shibuya: 21-1 Udagawa-cho; www.tops-saxon.co.jp) and buy their white chocolate cake to eat in the comfort of my home later.”


Geoffrey Abdallah Suggestion: Fukuzushi

Geoffrey Abdallah Suggestion: Fukuzushi

Marketing rep Geoffrey Abdallah, 20, is in for the win: “I would begin the afternoon with a stroll through the Roppongi Hills gardens (www.roppongihills.com), then go to a romantic movie at the Toho cinema. For dinner, I would treat her to sushi at Fukuzushi (5-7-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku; www.roppongifukuzushi.com), and then end the night at the Ritz Carlton’s bar in Midtown (www.ritzcarlton.com), sipping champagne and looking over the entirety of Tokyo.” You seem to be quite the romancer, my friend.

Hirofumi Ohya Suggestion: Jackpot

Hirofumi Ohya Suggestion: Jackpot

Hirofumi Ohya, a salaried worker of 32, had little to say on the subject, except that “so long as there’s alcohol and it’s cheap, then I’m happy”. However, when asked to elaborate, he obliged: “I like an oyster bar called Jackpot (2-2-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku; 03-3412-6900) in Shimokitazawa. If you go right before they close, then they practically feed you oysters for free, as they cannot use the same oysters tomorrow that they had prepared today. I also like all of the small yatai eateries down the street from the south exit of Shimokitazawa station. There are many good places there, including one called Uoshin (2-1-1 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku; 03-3419-5584), where the fish is fresh and the sake is good.”


Fumiyasu Iwai Suggestion: Tokyo Midtown

Twenty-seven-year-old landscaper Fumiyasu Iwai remarked that he’d like to visit Tokyo Midtown (www.tokyo-midtown.com) and “look around its stores to enjoy the elegant and uplifting atmosphere.” His wife Miyuki agreed, adding: “I suppose that would be good at night, but during the day I would want to wander around either Jiyugaoka or Futako-Tamagawa. Both of those stations have nice areas to shop and dine in, and though places come and go with time, the atmosphere remains fun and enjoyable.” The Tama River would also be an excellent place to relax: it’s too bad that Valentine’s Day falls during one of the chilliest months of the year.

Melanie Yamauchi Suggestion: Zagara. Photos by Miharu Yamauchi

Melanie Yamauchi, an English teacher and mother of yours truly, spoke excitedly on the subject: “I would give Daddy a Valentine’s Day card in the morning before he went to work. Then, I would either buy some cake from Vent du Sud (5-3-1 Daita, Setagaya-ku; 03-5948-4221) in Setagaya-Daita, or look for chocolates and candies from a confectionary like Godiva, Neuhaus or See’s Candies (available at select department stores like Tokyu and Seibu). If I wanted to buy something cheap yet sweet for myself, then I would go to Kaldi Coffee Farm (Omotesando store: 5-10-01 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; www.kaldi.co.jp/english), as they have many imported snacks there. For dinner, I would want to go to Zagara (5-33-3 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku; 03-5787-6591), the best Italian restaurant in the area, and walk around Shimokitazawa to buy some last-minute groceries. Oh, and let everyone know that I would send my daughter a Valentine’s Day card well in advance.” Moms will be Moms, but this time, I’ll make sure to wash the dishes and leave a single rose where that dirty mess had been. – Miharu Yamauchi


Romance-hungry Japanese women who want to wear their hearts on their panties can pick up a pair of “koikatsu” underwear, the latest novelty item from lingerie maker Amo’s Style. Released January 21, the undies sport an appliquéd heart with messages like “Love,” “Kiss Me,” “Cutie,” and “I heart You”. They also come with their own omikuji, those fortune-telling strips usually doled out at Shinto shrines. The product is “aimed at young women who will surely be motivated to find love in time for Valentine’s Day.” Available in black, white and pink for ¥1,050 at select Amo’s Style shops.

Advice (for him)

Kid44 (not his real name) and his Dream Girl, Pantera, conduct regular seminars in Tokyo through PickUp Asia, training men how to “enjoy happy and lasting relationships with high-value women.” He offers the following tips for fellas looking to find The One, rather than just, y’know, Anyone.

  • One of the best ways for a guy to get that girl who is “out of my league” is to raise your league and make yourself an Amazing Man. Get in shape, go to improv or comedy classes to improve your communication skills, get an inspiring (and well-paid) career, become awesome.
  • The biggest mistake guys make is staying in a bad relationship with a girl they know to be a liar, a cheat, untrustworthy, closed-minded and with deep scars and heavy emotional baggage, just because “She’s hot!” Don’t do it!
  • The Girl of Your Dreams will recognize you as the Guy of Her Dreams and will pretty much know it immediately upon meeting you.
  • Keep the conversation light and playful with lots of humor. As women laugh, they become more comfortable with you. Stay away from heavy emotional topics: politics, race, war, death, taxes and sex are strictly off the table.
  • Check for the following: are her eyes all big and wide? Is she smiling and laughing at your silly jokes? Is she asking you personal questions about yourself? In other words, is she real?
  • Wait for her to touch you first before you touch her. Make sure she is the one doing most of the touching.
  • Be sure to get her phone number before you leave.
  • Oh, and about this whole cultural differences/miscommunication thang: if she is really The One, then she’ll either already speak the same language as you, or bust her butt getting into English classes. That’s just how true love operates in a country with eikaiwa on nearly every corner.

Kid44 can be contacted directly at: kid44@pickupasia.com. See www.pickupasia.com for details of upcoming seminars.


Advice (for her)

Yukiyo Hiruma, author of the e-book Unmei no Gaikokujin no Renai Koza (“Love with the Foreign Man of Your Dreams”), is making a career of giving advice to Japanese women that want to snag a gaijin guy. Metropolis convinced this self-described “international relationship advisor” to dole out a few free pointers for local gals seeking cross-cultural love.

    How to find him…

  • Don’t passively wait to meet someone, go to cafés and bars that foreigners frequent and assert yourself.
  • Research what kind of fashion foreign guys like and aim for that. Work on your language skills and knowledge of culture, and you will make yourself more attractive in the process.
  • There are plenty of nice foreign guys, but also some who are out for only one thing, so be careful. Japanese women are not used to the compliments they will hear from foreign guys, and can overreact to them. To avoid tears in the future, take a step back and view things with a sober eye.
    Now that you found him…

  • Arrive at mutual understanding by talking about everything.
  • The secret to transcending differences in culture and customs is to always put your true feelings into what you say to your partner.
  • Understand and respect your partner’s country and culture. Don’t force him to learn all about Japan. Rather, learn about his country from him.


Manly Sweets

With Japan’s near-insistence on limiting Valentine’s Day gifts to chocolate—coupled with the stereotype that “real men” don’t eat sweets—it can be next to impossible for a girl to find the perfect gift for the testosterone-laden guy in her life. Or so we thought until we found these bad-boy sweets. Kobe-based confectioner Frantz’s Car Mania Set is a range of premium chocolates for the automotive enthusiast, with intricately crafted spanners, monkey wrenches and pliers that are so realistic they’re almost unappetizing. The nuts and bolts are carved with such precise grooves they can actually be screwed together (until they melt in your fingers, that is). Our personal favorite has to be the Love Key, whose tagline urges consumers to “Start the engine of your heart and take the lead over your rivals!”

Available online at www.frantz.jp.


Metropolis’ third annual Valentine’s Glitterball is the can’t-miss event of the season. Following last year’s “Angels & Demons” bash, this year’s party is all about the thrills of true love, from the initial tantalizing glimpse across a crowded dancefloor all the way to that first “Magnetic Kiss.” Whether you’re in love, looking for love, lovelorn—or just out to have a good time—join us at Alife nightclub in Nishi-Azabu on Thursday, February 11. Doors open at 7pm, followed by five hours of all-you-can-drink frivolity, plus plenty of dancing to the city’s top house, funk, disco, hip-hop, R&B and techno DJs; there will also be some fantastic giveaways. A limited number of presale tickets are available for ¥3,500 (entry is ¥4,000 on the day), so act fast if you want to join in Tokyo’s No. 1 Valentine’s party. Theme: pink and white.

Feb 11. See www.metropolis.co.jp/magnetickiss for details.

Ad Hoc

Each week, the Metropolis classifieds team combs through thousands of advertisements to choose a single submission that best captures the essence of our vibrant readership and our diverse commu… OK, screw it, we just like these ads from the past year.

Drink like a fish? Looking for a woman who loves beer and getting wrecked, even on weeknights. English male, 37.

Deep down I am superficial. Beautiful, sexy JF wants to be spoiled by a single white male, over 30, no children, successful generous gentleman, living anywhere in the world.

Nubian chick. Black, morbidly obese, great breasts and greater in the sack, seeks no-strings thrills with fun, adventurous male with a mind for decadent pleasures and a “pocket” full of goodness.

JM, 22, living in Tokyo. I’m looking for women who would be pleased to let me lose my cherry.

Hey you! Ugly-fat-boring-crazy woman is seeking a hot-rich-generous guy for wild sex and shopping (You pay, of course.)

Absolutely ugly, unsexy, stupid, fat, insensitive, uneducated, non-book-reading J-dude with no sense of humor wants to hang out with someone with similar qualities. Meet me for coffee and find out how boring I am.

Nice girl. I demand association with a white woman. From a café and a meal, I want to make friends. By 172cm, 59kg, this SJM athletic type is an engineer. Thank you!



Believe it or not, when it comes to classified ads, we do have standards. The following submissions were deemed too far out even for Metropolis’ “And others…” section.

Have you been naughty? Perhaps you can help Santa empty his sack? Let’s make the reindeer blush. No beards.

Charisma-chan! Please carry me like sexy, sexy house! We do food, alcohol, crimes. Me: pasty flaccid man. You: female, short fingernails, well-shorn stink clam. Bring toothbrush!

Handsome and muscular American guy seeks curious Japanese lady, any age, who would like to explore healthy and erotic enemas together. Limits respected.

Annoying Japanese girlfriend. Must have 5-inch platform shoes, poor taste in clothing and music. Must scream Kawaiiiii! at everything, constantly. Orange lips, skin, hair, preferred.

Do you have big jugs in your house? Please bring them to mine. If they are dirty, I can help you wash them.

Air leaked out of my inflatable girlfriend. Time to try flesh-and-blood alternative. If you are warm, playful and attractive, I may throw her away. Warning: used her twice daily.

Male slave, Japanese. Clean/discreet. Want to be bound and punished. Slave for a day. I will obey you/your friends, as long as female. Use my face as your toilet seat.

Only women with extremely long torsos and short legs need apply. I like poo inside. Yeah!

Dominant SWF. I want an ultra-submissive very generous Japanese male slave who is happy to live in a chastity device. I am happy to come to Japan temporarily.

Have a craving for liquid gold? Let’s talk to get to know each other and see whether I can quench your thirst.

Daytime fun. Email. Exchange pictures. Meet for coffee. Go to a hotel. Screw like rabbits. Say goodbye. Go our separate ways. Simple, safe and hassle free. Interested?

Good Job, Nick. Met a person named Nick last week in a gay bar. Great b***job. Drop me a line and we’ll do it again. Maybe more?


Ed Jacob’s 2008 book Love Hotels: An Inside Look at Japan’s Sexual Playgrounds offers a detailed study of a topic that’s near and dear to all our loins. In chapter 7, “Rest or Stay: A Walkthrough,” the author schools readers in the finer aspects of love hotel etiquette.

The man shouldn’t walk in front of or behind the woman, leaving her to be seen alone on the street or in the lobby, even for a second. Go in together, preferably hand in hand.

Don’t get into the elevator with another couple, and before you try anything kinky there, remember that you’re being watched on a security camera.

While women are showering or freshening up, men who have point cards often take the opportunity to insert them into the payment panels, as their dates may not be entirely thrilled to see that they are regular visitors to the establishments.

Usen, the muzak service that most hotels subscribe to, has a station known as Alibi. If you tune into the Alibi station, you can call your spouse/significant other and they will hear the sounds of a traffic jam or a crowded train station in the background.

When you go to a love hotel, there is usually a condom or two on the headboard, but they are small. Tall men may want to visit the drug store before they go and buy some Magnum Free brand condoms, which fit tall people better.

Stains on the sheets (semen, vaginal excretions, and a small amount of menstrual blood) are okay, but customers may be charged cleaning fees if they vomit, cause floods, or leave excrement in the room.

After visiting the love hotel, it is bad form to go home directly. Unless you are in a rush for the last train or to get to work, take your lover to a coffee shop.

Source: Love Hotels: An Inside Look at Japan’s Sexual Playgrounds, by Ed Jacob (Lulu.com, 2008, 182 pages, $17.74)

Ask The Sexpert

Q – Dear Sexpert, I’ll admit it: I came to Japan because of the women. I’ve always been attracted to the typical slim Asian body type. Mission accomplished: I got married to a total Japanese babe. Yet recently, after two years of marriage, I find myself increasingly attracted to foreign females—namely large breasts. My question: is there any way to tactfully suggest to my Japanese wife that she consider a boob job? I know there must be some cultural issues involved, but I’m not sure what they are.—Silicone Starved in Shinagawa

A – The Sexpert says: I see you don’t subscribe to the Weird Science philosophy of “more than a mouthful is a waste.” It’s pretty selfish of you to want your wife to cater to your sudden fetish, but there are many women out there who glare with envy at the well-endowed and are willing to make the leap into artificial enhancement. My advice would be to find out her favorite female celebrities—is she a fan of ladies with big ones? If she’s into the idea, tell her you’ll pay for them. If she’s not, remember this: women’s breasts gain some volume when lactating, so why not try knocking her up instead?

Q – Dear Sexpert, Like most foreign women who date Japanese guys, I get stared at on the street when I’m walking hand-in-hand with my boyfriend. The worst is when I come upon a typical “mixed” couple: the petite Japanese girly and her doofus American boyfriend. They always snicker and whisper to each other. Can you suggest a put-down I can use when I’m at the receiving end of such sniggers?—Blue Eyes In the Back of My Head

A – The Sexpert says: While I’m sure there’s a plethora of “yellow cab” jokes you can pick up on Google, are you sure it’s the Non-J-girl/J-guy combo these Charisma Man couples are laughing at? Are you sure it’s not the way your eyebrows crinkle and your lips curve into a snarl when you see her flick her long, black hair and laugh at one of his lame jokes? Or the fish-like frown that melts across your face as you glare disdainfully while she coos at him in broken English? Instead of ragging on what may be some poor nerd’s first relationship, re-evaluate yourself and make sure you’re deserving of your hot Japanese boyfriend.

Q: Dear Sexpert, My boyfriend has a lot of “female friends”—and it’s driving me insane. He says they’re all platonic, but sometimes he comes home and is nicer to me than usual, which is totally suspicious. Worse, I’ve got blonde hair and hazel eyes, and all his “friends” are Japanese, with long black hair and teeny! He’s totally into Meisa Kuroki, and I’m scared that his taste is becoming “Japanized”… what should I do?—Thinking of Turning Japanese

A: The Sexpert says:The quickest way to solve this conundrum is to start hanging out with his “girl friends.” Nothing will kill the mood more for a potentially cheating boyfriend, and make things awkward for his suspected partners in crime, than having his territory invaded by his alpha female. If that doesn’t work and you’re not too morally uptight, I know a married guy who is interested in Western girls…


The Sexpert is a 20-something SWF from the US Midwest. Send her your questions at advice@metropolis.co.jp.

Charity Choco

On a lighthearted day like Valentine’s, it’s easy to forget that there are millions of people all over the world whose lives are shadowed by the hardships of war, natural disaster and disease. One such heartbreaking story is that of Sabreen Hafed, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl and budding artist who died of cancer last year. To honor her memory and help raise funds for other Iraqi cancer patients, the Japan Iraq Medical Network is selling a line of chocolates called Inochi wo Tsunagu (“connecting lives”). In exchange for a minimum donation of ¥500, you’ll receive ten chocolate hearts in a tin decorated with Hafed’s drawings. The proceeds will be used to provide much-needed medicines to young cancer patients in Iraq. The chocolates are available at Bean’s Act in Nerima (1-33-4 Nerima; www31.ocn.ne.jp/~beansact), plus several bars and cafes in Machida.

For a full list, see http://tinyurl.com/jim-japan (Japanese).

desperate measures
x Nothing your mom wouldn’t do
xx Acceptably desperate
xxx Just pray that none of your friends find out
xxxx Teetering on the brink of appalling
xxxxx Be ready to leave the country once you’re done

Having trouble scoring that all-important Valentine’s Day date? Here are a few tips, from the inspired to the totally frantic…

Get in on a last-minute gokon group date. Hopefully, you won’t get stuck with a crowd of total freaks—and at least you’ll know that everyone else there wants a date as badly as you do. Shame rating: xx

Go to any club in Roppongi—or, if you’re serious, to Singles Bar Green (www.bargreen.jp), which even has pie-charts on its website collating the ages and occupations of customers. Ooh, nerdy. Shame rating: xxx

Update your online profile. Take new flattering pictures of yourself and post them on Mixi, Facebook or your online dating site of choice, then wait for the offers to pile in. Shame rating: x

Be rthe shoulder to cry on. Help comfort a friend who’s been dumped recently, then worm your way into becoming their rebound Valentine’s date. Shame rating: xxxxx

Take out a personal ad in the Metropolis classifieds section. Duh. Shame rating: x

Go to Ni-chome. If you’re a girl, all of the guys will tell you that you look gorgeous, which is just the ticket if you’re single and lonely on Valentine’s. If you’re a straight guy, try your luck with the few straight girls there—the lack of competition should work in your favor. And if you’re a gay guy… c’mon, do we need to spell it out for you? Shame rating: variable

Go to a konyoku (mixed bathing) onsen. Sure, the average age of your fellow bathers might be 60-plus, but you never know… Shame rating: xxxx

If pride is no object, call up a reliable ex-boyfriend/girlfriend for a one-night stand. Shame rating: xxxx

Amina Mobley


Photo by Kevin Mcgue

Lingerie brand Ravijour is often called “the Victoria’s Secret of Japan,” not just for its designs and popularity, but also because it has made it acceptable—and even fun—for a man to visit the store and buy lingerie for his better half. Ravijour’s 109 branch has an open atmosphere and friendly female staff who can help men choose the proper size and styles their lady friends will actually consent to wear. (While you may like black PVC, guys, she may have other ideas.) For gals who want their fellas to give up baggy boxers or tighty whiteys for something sexier, Cluise in 109-2 offers shorts ranging from slightly naughty to outrageous from Japanese brands such as Guts Dynamite Cabaret, as well as imports from Brazil and Italy. Zero Gravity, nestled in a quiet backstreet in Omotesando, stocks fun and sexy boxers for guys. Just avoid cartoon undies, which are about as sexy and fashionable as a clip-on necktie.


  • Ravijour. 5F Shibuya 109, 2-29-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku. Open daily 10am-9pm. Tel: 03-3477-5034. www.ravijour.com
  • Cluise. 5F Shibuya 109-2, 1-23-10 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku. Open daily 10am-9pm. Tel: 03-3477-8233. www.cluise.com
  • Zero Gravity. 4-28-18 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Open daily 11am-8pm. Tel: 03-5771-2505. www.zerogra.jp

If you’re on the hunt for some cross-cultural romance this Valentine’s Day, what better place to get inspiration than real life? Japan’s most popular tale of international romance, Saori Oguri’s autobiographical manga Darling wa Gaikokujin (“My Darling is a Foreigner”), chronicles the domestic adventures of Oguri and her husband, an America-born journalist and self-professed “language otaku” named Tony Laszlo. Oguri’s penchant for black humor (and insistence on loading the dishwasher just so) coupled with Laszlo’s outspoken ways—including badgering a restaurant into accepting an expired coupon—make for a humorous tale that has won fans across Japan. The series has proved so popular that Toho is making a live-action film based on the comic. Starring Mao Inoue (Hana Yori Dango) and Canadian actor Jonathan Scherr, the movie opens nationwide on April 10.