Where Can Japanese Nerds Take Non-Nerds on Dates?

You might be a nerd. I'm a nerd! But just because you are one, that doesn't mean your significant other is. Your partner, whether they're male or female, might not like video games, anime, manga—or whatever.

That still doesn't mean you both can't explore geekdom together!

A recent issue of Japanese women's magazine Otome Sugoren did a piece on females who are keen to date Japanese otaku (geeks). These sorts of articles were popular in Japan between 2004 and 2006, when Train Man was all the rage, and it was cool to be square.

These types of articles, however, vanished in the wake of the tragic Akihabara Massacre, as the image of otaku and Akihabara took a hit.

Otome Sugoren listed a slew of date plans that should (could?) delight non-otaku. So where should you take your non-nerd date? One option given is going to see an anime feature film. The motion picture version is ideal, because watching an entire anime series requires a significant time investment. Movies are comparably shorter, and since they are directed at a wide audience, the stories are typically self-contained.

If anime movies aren't your date's thing, then you can always go to a manga cafe, which is like an internet cafe, but, well, for manga. Manga cafe are stacked with wall-to-wall comics, providing you and your squeeze an all-you-can-eat manga experience. "I want a comic crazy dude to recommend some manga to me!" said a teenage Otome Sugoren reader. Manga cafes are ideal date spots when the weather is crummy, because they provide a cozy environment for you both to read and talk.

Karaoke is a popular date option. If you want to give it a decidedly nerd twist, fire up a bunch of anime theme songs—but try to pick ones that are nostalgic and everybody should know. Anime songs for kiddy shows are probably your best bet. The less obscure, the better. "If we sing an anime song that we both know," said another teenage reader, "I really get into it."

The other long-standing default date option in Japan is a video game arcade. Like pretty much everyone else in the country, so much of my formidable dating years were spent in arcades, playing video games and posing for sticker pictures. It's important to realize that your non-gamer flame might not have an enjoyable evening watching you play King of Fighters. (Crazy, I know!) "I want to play music games or quiz games," said yet another teenager Otome Sugoren reader. "You know, games we can play together."

In the past few years, maid cafes, havens for lonely otaku, have become popular. These are typically male-only domains, and some Japanese women are apparently interested in checking them out, eating rice omelets with hearts written in ketchup, and playing paper, rock, scissors with maids. "I want to check out their cute costumes, and it's tough to go by yourself if you're female," said a 20-something Otome Sugoren reader. Though, if you do end up at a maid cafe, make sure you're giving your full undivided attention to your date and not the maids.

Maid cafes aren't the only place that women might feel awkward about entering. Idol concerts, with their legions of male fans, might be off-putting for women to go without a male companion. "I think I could have fun," said a 20-something year-old. "I've always admired cute idols." And since it's a concert, perhaps, both you and your date could have fun.

If you've got a car (or a train pass), getting out of the city is always good. According to Otome Sugoren, visiting nerd pilgrimage sites can be fun. These might be actual locations where games or anime are set—or visiting, like so many have, Nintendo's Kyoto headquarters. (Since you can't enter the Nintendo building, "visiting" is actually "standing outside and going, 'Woah.'") "I think it would be fun to get the lowdown while on the trip," said another 20-something year-old female reader. And if you can't venture far, visiting geek meccas like Akihabara are a viable option. "I want to go around Akihabara," said a 30-something year-old female. "It's like opening a whole new world."

As the magazine explains, the number of otaku are increasing. Which means, the number of people dating them are increasing. And if you think otaku or geeks have their own culture (they do!), then it's important that those in a relationship at least attempt to expose themselves to these interests. It's not necessary to overdo it, and everyone has their boundaries and things they simply are not interested in. That's fine. Though, it never hurts to attempt to share your interests. Just remember to reciprocate.

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