Couple on date

The Best First Date Spot in Japan Goes to…

An online survey of Japanese girls in their twenties and thirties sheds light on their preferred first date spots and why.

March 16, 2022

Key Points

  • An online survey of Japanese women in their 20’s and 30’s found three popular date spots
  • The most important factors in these womens decision seemed to be interior design and a calm atmosphere
  • Privately owned places—not chain stores—were by far preferred by Japanese women

First Impressions are Everything

A first date comes with all sorts of anxiety. The biggest one being where do you meet? You’ve got one shot to make a good impression on your date and a bad date spot might ruin it for you. Luckily, a recent survey of Japanese women dating in the 20-30’s age range shed some light on what kind of date spot gives a good impression and why in Japan.

First Date Spot Choice #3: Cafe

and people” cafe in Ginza, Tokyo. Image sourced from

In third place, Japanese women preferred cafes with a calm ambiance. If you’ve never visited a Starbucks in Japan, then beware because chain cafes get very noisy and jam-packed quickly. It can be trying to find a relaxing cafe where you can hear the person next to you and chill out. The best bet for a cafe would be to search for privately owned ones.

Private cafes tend to be quieter and have their own interesting menu. They are also usually only open from lunch to early dinner time which seemed to be popular with women. For a first date spot, a cafe lunch is an easy first step to take.

First Date Spot Choice #2: Fancy Izakayas

Traditional Izakaya
Traditional Izakaya. Image sourced from

An izakaya is a Japanese-style bar. The biggest difference between an izakaya and a western bar is usually izakayas can do “nomihoudai” which means “all you can drink” for a certain amount of time while western-style bars are pay as you drink. One other important factor for a first date spot is that smoking is still very common in traditional izakayas. Cigarette smoke blowing in your date’s face is a mood killer for most people which leads to the term “fancy izakayas“.

FES by asobi. A glamping themed izakaya.
FES by asobi. A glamping themed izakaya. Image sourced from

Fancy izakayas tend to have a theme going on that makes the interior design alluring. It also is less likely for smoking to be permitted and if it is, there is usually a separate area. Similar to cafes, while there are many chain izakayas, the atmosphere of these is more pleasing as a first date spot as there is a local vibe. The one downside is that these “fancy izakayas” can be a little bit more expensive than a traditional izakaya. Make sure to check the menu! And how much you want to go on this first date.

First Date Spot Choice # 1: Italian Restaurants

Are you shocked? I would’ve been. But after living in Japan for a while, you will notice there are many small, cozy Italian restaurants all over. Japanese people love Italian cuisine almost as much as the Italians. You’ll find pasta in places where there shouldn’t be pasta (looking at you Denny’s).

These Italian local restaurants usually serve delicious desserts which is usually a win for any girl with a sweet tooth. They might have course menus you can choose from for a more formal feeling or you can order a la carte if you are feeling more casual.

Plus, the menu typically changes every week so it’s possible to get a local experience while still eating something new if you decide to come back after your first date!

While I’m not a Japanese girl, as a foreign girl in the same age demographic, I do agree that these options make for good impressions.

Let us know what you think about this ranking!

Japanese source:

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Layla Knight

Layla Knight is an extroverted, inquisitive creature who enjoys researching, writing and teaching. She can be found frolicking the streets of Tokyo with her mates as they work together to avoid crowds and queues. Try to catch her if you can!

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