Tokyo Blind Date

Last updated: May 27, 2024

I solicited a blind date on the Internet for a weekend meetup in Tokyo in April 2024.

The resulting adventure was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

I’ve copy-pasted my viral diary posts into this article for easier reading and to serve as a personal archive.

Origin

I want to do a blind date and go to Tokyo next weekend

If you’re a woman with a passport who likes sushi and Japanese food and can ride a bike in a big city… let’s go

I’ll pay for everything but in return you have to film stupid videos of me for my socials

Nick Gray’s Tokyo Blind Date

🍣 Do you like sushi?
🏙️ Do you like exploring new cities?
👱🏻‍♂️ Do you like blonde guys with glasses?

Come to Tokyo with me for a blind date next weekend. It will be fun 🇯🇵

Each day we’ll try 2-3 new restaurants. Maybe 4. We’ll walk, shop, eat, explore

ITINERARY
Thurs, 25 April 2024 – arrive
Sunday, 28 April 2024 – depart

WHY AM I DOING THIS
I went to Tokyo last summer. 9 days. It was excellent. The food, the city, the matcha. So good

But after a few days I wished that I had a fun cute friend traveling with me. To talk and share stories. And also to film me and my dumb Instagram Reels

LOGISTICS

Flights: You’d likely depart on Wed, 24 April 2024. I’m happy to get your econ ticket and all expenses and I expect nothing in return. You should have a passport and be a savvy & relatively low-maintenance traveler

Hotels: I’ll get you a hotel room. Some friends and I bought a tiny apartment near the Shinjuku neighborhood in Tokyo, so I’ll stay there. I reserve the right to come use your hotel gym

IS THIS CRAZY?
I guess. But it sounds fun. Feel free to reference check me with any mutuals

HOW TO APPLY
DM me or email [email protected] or click the link in my bio

April 16, 2024

First Update

Update: I’m flying to Tokyo to meet a random woman from Utah for this blind date

She saw my post and took a chance to send me an email

I booked her tickets and hotel last night so I guess we are doing this! We leave in a few days

She’s never been to Japan and is ready for the adventure

We’re both excited and agree that this is absolutely crazy

With any luck I’ll share a pick of us both smiling in Japan in a few days… stay tuned

I got 400 applications and DMs and emails from the most incredible women plus a few ambitious men

Thank you to everyone who shared my post or messaged me

Also I picked a few random applicants and am sending $500 each to a charity of their choice to say thanks for being open-minded to a fun idea with a random person on the internet

April 20, 2024

Flying There

I am flying to Tokyo on the new low cost Japan Airlines spinoff called Zipair

The ticket from Honolulu to Japan was only $276 which is crazy cheap so I had to try it

They don’t have online check in 🤣🥵

There are also no seatback monitors for inflight entertainment

I upgraded to a bulkhead seat for more legroom for $55

There is nobody else seated in my whole aisle so the travel gods are smiling on me

Blind date starts in about 30 hours

April 24, 2024

Airport Pickup

I picked her up at the airport and we have officially met in person now

This is my Tokyo Blind Date update

Waiting for someone at the airport is humbling

You are scanning hundreds of people to find 1 person that you’ve never met before

Each passing person is a No, not her, No, not her, No

Until! I see her come out

I pump my fist in the air and call her name

She runs over and we sort of half-hug

Then we look at each other and square up and full-smile

I think we are both thinking the same thing:

Wow you are real!

At least I have this feeling deep in my stomach that YES— she is real

That is a relief. I knew she would be real… but you never know

“What are people saying on the internet about us?” she asks me

“It is about 90% hype and 10% worry that you’re going to cut out my kidneys.”

“I like those odds.”

I send her on a side quest while I handle the train tickets to get us back to downtown Tokyo

We board the train and start talking

Our conversation comes easily

Our ramen tour starts in 2 hours

April 25, 2024 – dated Tokyo time starts here

Ramen Tour

I booked us a ramen tour for 2 main reasons

(1) in case it was awkward between us, we would have someone else leading the conversation for a while

(2) to help keep her awake until at least 9pm through the jet lag

We meet the Japanese guide outside Shinjuku Station

He is a ramen expert and claims to eat over 300 bowls of ramen noodles per year

We eat and we learn neat facts about tonkotsu broth and shoyu broth and everything in between

Finally the guide asks—

“So how did you two meet?”

My date takes the bait.

“Oh, him? I literally just met him. We’re here on a blind date.”

The guide believes he has misunderstood or mis-stated

“But you just flew in? How did you meet?”

My date explains that we literally just met an hour or two ago

And she announces that this is the first time we’ve ever eaten a meal together

The guide is confused but likes it and he likes us

She and I share a glance and smile

The ramen is good and I like her

April 25, 2024 

Shinjuku

After the ramen tour we walk around Shinjuku, a major business neighborhood in Tokyo

She’s getting sleepy and the jet lag is catching up

It’s catching up to me too…

We stop for a photo

It is fun to write these notes for y’all

Eventually I’ll have to stop

But I can tell you that I’m happy she is here

We spent six hours together today so I guess it was our first date

We walk back and I drop her off at her hotel

She makes me promise to text her when I get home

I forget to text her so she checks to confirm I am safe

We are both exhausted and I think happy and looking forward to tomorrow

I have some fun things planned for tomorrow

Goodnight from Tokyo zzzz

April 25, 2024

Tokyo Food Photos

Today we went to Onodera for first lunch

It is a restaurant in the Omote-Sando neighborhood run by a Michelin-star chef

The fish is extremely high quality

Our favorites were the seared tuna, salmon, scallops, and a little egg cake

I’m telling you that the sushi in Japan is just on a whole different level than what I’m used to in Texas

The fish is so fresh and fatty and tasty

My date said “I think that tuna just changed my life!!”

We ordered basically every single thing we wanted without regard to price and ate until we were full

The bill was $80 for both of us which I feel is very reasonable??

We liked it so much that we went back a few hours later for second lunch

April 26, 2024 

Stress Post

I am exhausted and I need sleep but I want to say Hi before I go to bed

You know, when I had the blind date idea I guess I didn’t fully think it through

It is a little bit insane right?

To fly 15 hours and then spend the next 72 hours with someone you’ve never met

Sometimes I forget where my limits are

I noticed myself getting a bit stressed and frazzled towards the end of today

I do this thing where I try to do way too much on the first big day of a trip

Today we biked all over Tokyo

From Shinjuku to the National Garden down to Shibuya and Omotesandō then towards two museums

It was awesome now that I think about it. To race through the streets and under bridges and weaving between traffic on the perfectly paved Tokyo roads

But at times it was perhaps difficult

We biked back home to freshen up

Now we are walking walking walking through the thickest busiest crowds I’ve ever seen in my entire life

I turn to my date in the thick of the crowds and as my energy is wearing thin and my anxiety starts to rise…

Well I don’t want to recreate the dialogue tonight, maybe tomorrow

I basically said: I’m tired. I’m stressed. And I think I’m hungry, even though we had two lunches.

I just want to go back to the apartment

But she knew I wanted to go to this one shop to get a new shirt. And she offered to lead us there and held my hand and that was nice

So we walked through the crowd- again, the largest busiest thickest urban crowd I’ve ever seen in my life

And I bought a new shirt and we found a great dinner

We sat on the same side of the table and that, combined with the good food, made me happy

Then on the walk home we stumbled upon this young jazz punk band

A crowd had formed to listen and we joined to watch

Then we listen and laugh and take pictures, totally transfixed, for 25 minutes

And now I’m home and I’m tired but I wanted to say Hi to you here

I’ll go sleep and I’ll post more when I get up

Sorry my thoughts are messy tonight

It was a good day. We did so much

Goodnight xx

April 26, 2024

Face Reveal

I would like to introduce you now to my Tokyo Blind Date

She works as a mechanical engineer in the medical device industry

I am not going to give her name for her privacy but maybe she will post here on my account soon

She saw my post for the trip and sent me an email

Her email mentioned some fun facts about her and she also messaged me on every single other platform 😅

In college she was a student athlete and competed in sports stuff

I like her sense of humor and quick wit

We are taking it slow today

I’m typing this as we lay out in the grass in Shinjuku Gyoen, a beautiful park in downtown Tokyo

April 27, 2024

Trip Extended

The sun rises early here in Japan

We were supposed to leave last night

To fly home and end this crazy Tokyo Blind Date

Originally I thought that three days was the absolute maximum amount of time you would want to spend with a stranger in a foreign land

But things change

//

When you first fly in, you can see that Tokyo is big

There are more people in the Tokyo sprawl than all of Canada

Human life is so densely packed here. It is the most populated metropolitan area in the world

Each major neighborhood could be its own little city

I still want to show her around the fancy streets of Ginza, walk through the American areas of Roppongi, and taste what’s left of the old fish market

I think we need more time. I’m nervous to ask but I want to stay longer

“I have a crazy idea,” I say. “Do you want to stay to Tuesday? Stay and give us another day or two to explore?”

I imagine all the possible answers and of course I focus on the worst thing she might answer- that she wants to stick to the plan and not extend the trip

Then I will believe it is my fault. That I’m not fun enough, or not a good tour guide, or that my jokes are wearing thin or my muscles are not so big and that her laughs are not as deep

And then in that moment I will know that the date will be over

The date will be over not at the airport saying goodbye, not when the plane takes off, but at the exact moment that she tells me right now that she does not want to stay

She looks up. “Another day or two?”

I nod and shrug my shoulders, prepared for my defeat but proud that I tried

“Yeah! Let’s do it.”

I exhale. And smile. And then I book the flights

//

Maybe three days is the most amount of time you would want to spend with a stranger in a foreign land

But maybe she’s not a stranger to me now

So we will spend two more days to make it a total of five

We fly out on Tuesday night

And we get two more sunrises in Tokyo to explore

April 29, 2024

Photo Shoot

Thanks to Flytographer who offered to take these pics of us around the Shibuya neighborhood.

April 30, 2024

Late Dinner

It is late – I’m always late

We are running through side streets of Tokyo’s most elegant neighborhood to make our dinner reservation

She’s wearing eyeliner and I have on my least-wrinkled shirt.

It will be our last big meal together and I want to make it special

In two hours we’ll cry over a plate of Kobe beef

//

I get a message

“I’d like to treat you and your date to a fancy dinner in Tokyo. I love the stories you share and I’ll pay for everything. Please enjoy.”

But what’s the catch?

This foreign man I don’t know has a travel company that does reservations. Nice restaurants are hard to get access to in Tokyo. You need reservations for everything

The catch is that if we like it, maybe we’ll share. But he says just enjoy the meal and have fun

I grab her hand and risk a jaywalk to sprint us towards the skyscraper

//

“You have the Royal option” is the only thing the waiter says before a train of lobster, shrimp, and beef is sent to our table

We eat and joke about how ridiculous the amount of food is. We have a sense of excitement and dread about how this meal will play out

Perhaps you’ve been in a delicious torture like this before

You’re overstuffed. No idea what’s coming next. You don’t understand the menu

Come to think of it, you barely saw the menu. You’re up too late before an around-the-world flight home tomorrow. The jet lag is going to be intense

Finally when we cannot eat any more we type our polite beggings to “please no more meat please” and attempt to translate that to the waiters

But the waiters do not listen or we said it wrong

When they bring a plate- a full, overflowing plate- of expensive Kobe beef, we both absolutely lose it

We laugh for long minutes at the insanity of this delicious torture

I laugh so hard that I cry, trying to hold it back in the reserved Japanese formal atmosphere but I just can’t hold it back and the happy, ridiculous tears come too easy

We’re laughing like we are crazy now

It has been too long since I’ve laughed like this on a date

And it feels good to be this full with someone I like

I walk her home after dinner. I like to walk after meals and we need it tonight

We hold hands when we’re walking. Sometimes she holds my arm

Are we falling in love?

Or are we both on a fairytale vacation where the wind is at our backs and it is hard to fail

I don’t know. I feel a mix of emotions

I do know that Tokyo seems less lonely tonight

And I feel better

We leave tomorrow

May 1, 2024 

Last Post

We’re up early for one last sushi breakfast. Maybe a walk

I have a headache. It’s probably the melatonin I took last night to help me sleep. But I’m determined to make the morning right

We arrive at the best spot in the old fish market. Hours went into finding this place but she doesn’t need to know that

Over a piece of tuna I ask: Do you even like me?

She smiles. “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

//

We walk in shops I otherwise would not

We stay out longer than I usually would

We sit to watch the city on a bench meant for two

We talk about the trip, what’s back home, our past relationships

We search for ice cream and fake-fight about who should get the last bite

This is traveling together

The train ride to Narita Airport seems shorter this time

She’s at the window staring out. I am beside, typing these notes and thinking about how this whole thing got started

Posting my Tokyo Blind Date seemed like a fun excuse for me to go back to Japan

Maybe when you first heard about it you thought it was a gimmick or ridiculous

And I fully acknowledge that I am ridiculous

But I also got a look at something very real here. And stories that start ridiculous can end up very real and very deep

//

There is no grand plan for an airport goodbye.

We hug one last time as they call my flight for boarding

It is a good hug, a full body embrace that holds and lingers, and I know I will see her again

//

Perhaps my story resonated with so many because we want the Internet to be a good place and we want people to find love

I mean, you don’t read my posts and say, “Yes I remember the time that I, too, solicited strangers on the Internet to go to Tokyo.”

Now I know a lot of people are hoping that this story ends with a proposal

Or that we both declare our love and I’m typing this in bed beside her right now

But I understand enough about relationships to know that a long weekend together is not enough for a lifelong commitment

And what this represents is a beginning

I first said that I just wanted to travel to Japan with someone cute

But I think I could not fully admit that I wanted to find a girlfriend

I could not admit that even to myself

I realize now that it is four years since my last serious relationship ended

I am getting older and wiser and yet I guess I have been alone for a very long time

This trip made me realize what I’ve been missing

Maybe I’m finally ready to share my life with someone again

//

A beginning is a beautiful, wonderful thing

Whether that leads to Happily Ever After or it ends in an amazing blind date that I’ll remember for the rest of my life… I’ve at least learned that I’m ready to find that right person

If there is anything to take away from this experience it’s this:

Please live a good story

Do it for the plot

I’m telling you it is worth it

And find someone to do it with you, because it is way more fun when you’re not alone

If you’re a person who is alone or afraid to step out into the world to find your person, know that for the last four years, that has been me

On this trip I’ve learned how foolish I was to wait for so long

So take my advice and learn from my example. Don’t think that you can’t seek someone special in the world and maybe find your person

There are people out there who are waiting for their beginnings with you, too

Seeking a beautiful beginning is what we should all be looking for

Because eventually beginnings lead to Happily Ever Afters

May 2, 2024

THE END

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20 thoughts on “Tokyo Blind Date”

  1. No more faking it. I appreciate the honest vulnerability. You’re clearly not lacking in confidence, but you also show even the boldest sometimes wonders, “Do you even like me.” The winners go ahead and ask out loud like you did. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  2. This brought an absolute smile to my face! Happy to see you still embodying your purest self and share it with the world.

    Reply
  3. Do it for the plot — I loved that line.

    I am happy for you to have had the experience. Even if nothing comes of it you will both have a golden memory to cherish. And when life is not being very fun or very magical you can say, yes, that WAS amazing, wasn’t it?

    But I will be hoping for a HEA for you :-)

    Reply
  4. Wow.
    Just………
    WOW.
    Bravo.
    I’m thinking of how to describe how blown away I am at the shear EVERYTHING about this true story.
    I feel it’s like in “Top Gun: Maverick” where Tom Cruise has done this impossible thing and broken the speed record, and everyone is just sitting there, no words for it, just knowing they’ve experienced something once in a lifetime.

    Nick and Lady, just know the respect and admiration I have for the two of you separately, and during your time in Tokyo together, is ineffable.

    Bad-Assery through and through.

    Reply
  5. I think you need to sell your story to Hallmark. It’s an excellent romcom story!!

    Nice to hear how good you were to her offering to pay for everything and putting her up in a separate hotel. Glad things worked out for you. It’s a lovely story.

    Reply
  6. Great idea! I like both your sense of adventure and your blind date’s sense of fun risk and adventure!! You’re living your fantastic life!

    Reply
  7. This is just great! The sort of thing you normally read in story books. And you did it in real life. A hearty congratulations for making things happen in your life and a warm thank you for writing to tell us about it. Cheers. Adam

    Reply
  8. Nick, bravo, this is just bold, vulnerable and beautiful. Thank you for inspiring us all to make our life story better. Reminded me of the marvelous “A million miles in a thousand years” by Donald Miller. Cheers, Rich

    Reply
  9. It’s hard to put into words how impressive your story is. You each took a risk and, whatever happens, you found each other and shared a unique adventure. Kudos to you both, and thanks for sharing your sweet story with the world.

    Reply
  10. Nick
    The last picture I saw of you.You were holding your niece. And now look you are jet- setting it on the other side of the world. You are looking handsome as ever and your lady-friend looks like a good fit for your family. Best of luck to you both. I hope you enjoy and respect each other always.

    Reply

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