Dating Apps in Japan: What’s Worth It and What’s Not?

A Look Into The Most Popular Dating Apps In Japan

By Hilary Keyes
November 9, 2020
Lifestyle, Love & Relationships

10 dating apps to swipe right or left depending on what you’re looking for in your next relationship here in Japan.

So you’ve moved to Japan hopeful that the dating scene here will be ah-mazing and full of new excitement. You think you’ll find the perfect Japanese man for you right away and things will lead to a happy ending. While that’s a great mindset to have, it’s time to get real. Most foreign women living in Japan who want a serious relationship need to put in more legwork than they might otherwise elsewhere. Shyness combined with language and cultural barriers make dating an even more stressful situation than it typically is. Luckily, we live in an era where you can find anything online—even relationships. A quick search online will show you dozens of different deai-kei (出会い系 online dating) apps, but how do you know what will help you find who or what you’re looking for in Japan?

Having been there and done that, I decided to do a quick poll of my foreign friends to find out what dating apps in Japan worked best for them and what didn’t. 15 international women living in Japan gave the original rankings out of five stars when this article was first published in 2017, and five of that same group helped to update this ranking for the dating scene in 2020. It’s up to you whether to swipe right or left!

1. Tinder

Best dating apps: Tinder

One that doesn’t need an introduction. While most people are “just looking” on Tinder, if you’re actively trying, you can not only meet people to date, but also new friends, drinking buddies, networkers and activity mates. I found a whole group of men and women to check out summer festivals with, so I can speak from experience when I say that Tinder isn’t just for hanky panky.

In 2020, Tinder began offering its global passport, normally a paid service, for free to all users. It enabled them to better connect and communicate, which for several of the ladies was a huge bonus.

  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Fees: Free, special features require a monthly subscription
  • Original Ranking: 4 stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 5 stars

2. Bumble

Best datings apps: bumble

Bumble markets itself as an app where the woman makes the first move, and if she doesn’t message, then the match disappears after 24 hours. This app also relies on the user having a Facebook profile first to log in, which has made it a bit slow to catch on in Japan, but it is gaining in popularity because of its “women get to choose” option.

One of the women I surveyed (and who found her current Japanese boyfriend through this app) summarized it as follows: “There are a lot of guys on there, and most of them aren’t on other dating apps as well. You don’t find as many fake profiles on Bumble as you do with other sites, and you get to control the whole ‘am I going to bother talking to him’ part, which is really nice.

In 2020, the app is not just for dating, but also for business opportunities, and making friends too. Within the app, you can switch from one feature to another, which makes it very versatile for the global community, and also a great way to keep in touch and build your social circle from a safe distance.

  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Fees: Free, special features require a monthly subscription
  • Original Ranking: 4½ stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 5 stars

3. OkCupid Japan

Best Dating Apps Japan OkCupid

Billed as “the best dating site on Earth,” OkCupid’s Japanese version is much more detail-focused than Bumble or Tinder, with the average time to fill out your profile coming in at around 45 minutes. You can of course opt to leave most of your profile empty, but based on the experiences shared with me, it isn’t recommended, because you’re most likely to remain unnoticed. According to one woman who has used it, “OkCupid has a lot of serial daters on it, so if you use other dating apps in Japan, you may be discouraged by the dating pool overall.

In the 2020 dating scene, it’s still a staple, but the imbalance in users and the volume of fake profiles is staggering. It’s also said to be a hassle to sign up for too, so unless you’re really determined to use it, you’d probably have less trouble with a different app.

  • Language: English, Japanese, and others
  • Fees: Free, special features require a monthly subscription
  • Original Ranking: 3 stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 2 stars

4. JapanCupid

Best japan dating apps JapanCupid

Not to be confused with OkCupid, JapanCupid is a part of the Cupid Media Group, a niche-based dating site group, that connects users with people from around the world rather than just in their immediate area. While this makes it somewhat less appealing to users in Japan, JapanCupid is popular with those who will not be staying in Japan for the long term, and with those who are looking for someone to marry—though there are far more Japanese women on this site than there are Japanese men.

Unfortunately in 2020, not much seems to have changed, and when a different friend logged in, she was inundated with several fake profiles and soon deleted her account. “Claiming a 20-year-old Korean pop star is really you, but you’re a 36-year-old Japanese man? No thanks.

  • Language: English, Japanese, and others
  • Fees: Free, special features require a monthly subscription/fees
  • Original Ranking: 3 stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 1 star

5. MatchAlarm

MatchAlarm was a Japanese language-only dating app that recommended a new person to you every morning at 8 a.m. based on your social information gleaned from your Facebook profile and behavior. You had 16 hours to respond to an alarm, after which it would disappear, and would require three coins (a part of the in-app payment system) to tap the “Might Like You” button. Unfortunately, MatchAlarm is no more, and therefore no longer part of the ranking.

6. Omiai

Best datings apps in Japan: Omiai

Omiai is one of the largest online dating apps in Japan that relies on your Facebook profile (or Apple ID, or phone number now) to search for your ideal match. This is another konkatsu service, so unless you’re looking for a serious relationship, Omiai might not be the site for you. There are 24 points that you can filter your results by, including nationality and income level, which some users pointed out makes this site seem more for sugar daddy searching than anything else, but overall, no one had any serious complaints about this site.

For daters in 2020 with the Japanese language skills to keep up, Omiai has somewhat rebranded itself in more of a Tinder/Instagram-friendly fashion, and strictly placed focus on it being a marriage-centered dating app. If you’re seriously looking to meet a marriage partner, this is probably your best option when it comes to dating apps in Japan.

  • Language: Japanese
  • Fees: Free for women, ¥1,950 per month (for the 12-month plan) for men
  • Original Ranking: 4 stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 4 stars

7. Tapple

Tapple

Tapple is a dating app where, instead of filling out a profile and searching for people, you fill out the qualifiers of what sort of man you’re interested in, and then join different groups based on your hobbies. Then, you’re shown a selection of men who share that interest and meet your criteria, and you can either like, skip, or super like their profile.

While I had some positive experiences meeting and talking to people on this app, when the time came to actually meet in person, the people that I spoke to were very hesitant to meet offline. One guy actually said he preferred to talk and date online exclusively. Other foreign female users I spoke with had similar results, so this might not be a good choice if you are seriously looking to meet someone.

Thanks to numerous updates to a more streamlined, Tinder-like service, plus TV and online commercials in 2020, Tapple has become a very competitive app, preferred by those in their 20s who are looking for a relationship that could lead to something more. Plus, the number of people who want to take things slowly and start online here make it ideal for those wanting companionship but not willing to head out on the town just yet.

  • Language: Japanese
  • Fees: Free for women, monthly subscription fee for men (varies by number of months desired)
  • Original Ranking: 2½ stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 4 stars

8. YYC

Best datings apps: YYC

YYC has been around for twenty years now according to its website and still lists itself as Japan’s largest dating service. When you join, you are given an automatic 300 points to use to meet and match with others based on your own search parameters. The vast majority of this service’s users are young professionals. YYC is a dating site designed for people who want to combine the blogging space of LiveJournal with the influencer lifestyle of Instagram, so if you aren’t the type to frequently update and message, you might find this site to be more of a hassle than anything else. “Casual users tend to just disappear after their free points run out, so it’s not a place for you if you aren’t ready to commit to the effort,” said one user.

None of the ladies I spoke with still used YYC, so I gave it an honest try, and I have to say, it wasn’t all that bad, but I did find it somewhat repetitive. If your Japanese isn’t up to par, it can be a struggle to navigate as well.

  • Language: Japanese
  • Fees: Free for women, monthly subscription fee/points system for men
  • Original Ranking: 3½ stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 3 stars

9. Pairs

Best japanese dating apps: pairs

Pairs is another online dating site and one that has had numerous TV and train commercials since going online. This site and its related app also uses your Facebook profile but allows you to hide your full name, enabling its users to go by initials instead. Their target audience tends to be younger Japanese men, “so there are plenty of guys to choose from, but those that are interested in pursuing a serious relationship with a non-native Japanese speaker are few and far between, at least in my experience,” according to a user.

It’s updated a bit, but nothing really major has changed about the quality of the users,” says the same person as above in 2020. “I still use it, and sometimes you find someone nice, but it’s more work than some of the other dating apps in Japan out there now.

  • Language: Japanese
  • Fees: Free for women, monthly subscription fee for men
  • Original Ranking: 3 stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 3 stars

10. Zexy Koimusubi

Zexy enmusubi

Zexy Koimusubi is a dating app that is part of a popular Japanese wedding services company. The app overall works on the same principles of matching based on shared interests and uses your Facebook profile to compile this data, but otherwise, it seems to have a fairly high success rate. Whether this is due to their association with weddings and marriage already is anyone’s guess, but of the people that I know that have used this site, two married someone they met on there, and one is planning her wedding now, so make of that what you will.

I met my husband on this site, so of course I would recommend it to anyone serious about marriage, having kids, and staying in Japan. It does work if you’re brutally honest with yourself about what you’re looking for. If you’re still trying to figure that out, don’t bother with this app.” (Jane, American, 31)

  • Language: Japanese
  • Fees: initial one time ¥108 fee for women (for ID check purposes), monthly fee for men
  • Original Ranking: 4 stars
  • 2020 Ranking: 4½  stars

Bonus App: 11. Happy Mail

Best dating apps in Japan: Happy Mail

Happy Mail first began in 2001 but wasn’t a major player in the dating apps in Japan scene for a long time. According to their website, thanks to consistent efforts over the last twenty years they have the largest number of members of any dating/matching app in Japan. There are just over 25 million people on Happy Mail, looking for everything from pen pals to serious marriage partners.

Based on testimonials from male friends and a few women, it’s quite similar to Pairs but has more of the immediacy of Tinder in terms of matching, so it all comes down to what or how you want to go about dating in 2020 whether this app is what will work for you.

  • Language: Japanese
  • Fees: Free for women (plus a 120 coin present as some services require points), points/pay as you go fees for men
  • Ranking: 4 stars

Before subscribing to “serious” dating apps in Japan, keep in mind that most of them are likely to require you to submit a photo of an official ID before using their services. This is because they are quite literally trying to find you a suitable husband. If that’s your goal, don’t mind the screening! Good luck in finding the best for yourself, ladies!

Have you ever used a dating app or site in Japan? Share your experiences in the comments.  


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