An interview with a veteran practitioner of the art of “nanpa” (picking up girls for casual sex) shares some of his secrets in a candid interview, reproduced below.
Some background may be helpful – “nanpa” (originally 軟派, now ナンパ) is a term coined a century ago.
In its modern usage it refers to the practice of a man hitting on female strangers in an effort to lure them into an immediate sexual encounter, usually in a public setting. A woman hitting on a man in this fashion is referred to as “gyaku-nanpa” (reverse nanpa), whilst a skilled practitioner might be referred to as a “nanpa master” (nanpa-shi).
There is not a great deal to distinguish “nanpa” from “picking up” in the English usage – and both practices call to mind most probably accurate stereotypes of sleazy young men about town randomly hassling women who look as though they might somehow be coaxed into a one-night stand.
The practitioner granting an interview to 2ch here apparently frequents Ikebukuro – one of the major urban centres in central Tokyo, and well known for its shopping and seedy nightlife.
“I’m picking up girls in Ikebukuro every week, any questions?”
Anyway, here’s what I managed last month:
A tall and flat gyaru student by the station, a student – B+
A chibi half girl by McD’s, dispatch worker – B
A chubby girl by Doma [restaurant], bank employee – C
A manicurist by the western station stairs – A
Lately it’s been raining a bit so I’ve not been so active.
So how do you go about nanpa?
You just go and start talking to a cute girl. However, you have to think of the girl you’re approaching as godly.
Have you had any dangerous experiences? Like an angry boyfriend nearby?
Yes, I have been in those kind of situations.
What happens? Do you run?
If it’s another guy hitting on her I just ignore them. Boyfriends and bouncers – I apologise and dash off.
Out of 100 people, how many do you score with?
I think I approach fewer than other nanpa-shi, so my success rate is perhaps a little high. I get contact details from about 60%, and of those I get to do about 80%. I think I get to do about half of the girls I chat up.
What do you wear?
Usually jeans and a shirt.
You have any special terminology?
Not really. But we do rank them. A+ is top, C- is the lowest.
How long do you give for each mark?
5 minutes to 20 minutes at most.
How do you start your conversation?
Konbanwa. Those clothes/that bag/that hairstyle/that hat is cute isn’t it?
Is it OK to approach the bored looking girls loitering around the bookshop?
Bookshops are pretty hot places. If you start chatting them up in an unexpected place they’ll talk more normally to you. Success rates go up.
Wait, are you hot?
Well… I’m not ugly.
Aren’t you at risk of meeting your friends? Where do you live?
Not at all… the chances of meeting a girl you already hit on are higher.
What sort of impression do you need to make on a girl?
It depends on the girl, but you need to appeal to them based on sincerity. You have to be polite, even if it is just fake.
My looks are above average, but I’m no good at conversation. Nanpa is impossible for me, is it?
Not really, to be honest my conversation is weak too. The important thing is to listen to her once you have broken the ice.
Holidays and weekends are when most of the cute girls are out aren’t they? You take a break on weekdays?
No, it’s not like that. There are cute girls even on weekdays. Girls on their way home from work or university. Holidays often have a lot of girls in groups I think.
I was planning to go somewhere new with a friend for some nanpa action. Do you have any advice?
I go on nanpa trips sometimes too. First, you have to find the place’s hotspot. Next, you need to relax even if it is an unfamiliar place, to make it psychologically easier.
I heard it’s tantamount to suicide practising nanpa around Shinjuku because of all the yakuza around, that true?
I don’t know the details but if you are moderate anywhere should be OK. However, the competition there is harsh.
Don’t you need to start as an apprentice?
Maybe, it is important to be aware of what the obstacles are. When I started out, I was a master’s apprentice [literally “goldfish shit” – meaning a trail of excrement hanging from the anus of a goldfish] too.
Tell me an interesting way to pass the time in Ikebukuro, aside from nanpa.
Watch the pretty girls go by.
I want to hit on a girl working in a clothes shop, but I’m not sure how. How about asking her “I need a present for my girlfriend, how’s this?” to get close and then saying “Actually, I was…”?
That’s great! Your chances of success are higher there too. It might be better to say it is for “a female friend” though.
So what sort of pretext do you use? What happens if she agrees?
It’s case by case. In a shopping area you could praise her clothes and ask her what she’s doing today. If she’ll talk with you, go with her and have a drink together, or just get her contact details and meet her the next day.
Is it best to have a flashy watch and necklace? What accessories are best? Are rings OK?
For nanpa it’s best to dress in a way anyone could accept, simply and not too flashily. I think. If it matches then I suppose anything’s good… the same with rings.
Make us a template of how you do things.
At 8PM I get off work.
I go to Ikebukuro and start looking around.
I start hitting on girls. Usually near the east exit on the approach to Sunshine City.
If I succeed: Go for a drink (to an izakaya if we are in a group, otherwise to a bar) – go to a love hotel or home
If it was just contact details – meet up in the next few days
If I fail, I try to work out the reason why and go home.
Oh, so you can do it with groups of people! It’s not just 1 on 1?
Right – sometimes there’s more than one guy present too.
I’ve never done it, but should you be dressing in the fashion your target girls are likely to like?
Not really – in reality you won’t know what your target’s looking for in terms of male fashion. A gyaru may not always want a gyaru-type guy.
That’s why dressing neutrally to appeal to all is best I think.
How long have you been doing this? If nanpa is all about doing them, you don’t think about girlfriends or whatever?
3 years or so. But it’s not about how long, it’s about how many you’ve approached and how many you’ve done.
Basically it’s about doing them. Of course I don’t want to make them my girlfriend. But even so I often end up making friends with ones I don’t do, and you can meet more girls through them too.
Do you get shot down hard? “What the hell are you thinking, go and take a look in the mirror!”, that sort of thing?
Not really. It’d be a shock but I’d take no notice. On to the next!
I went to Tokyo and gave this a try and the success rate I had was ridiculously high. Maybe it was the Kansaiben.
I get the impression doing it in a fresh area raises your success rate. I tried it in Osaka, and even though I was being made fun of I still got to do them.
Don’t you care about being given a weird nickname from hanging around doing it in the same spot all the time?
No need to take any notice. Who cares. It’s fine!
What age range do you target?
Twenties. But I emphasise personality and style of living more than that.
I have some nanpa experience too.
I made a pass at a foreigner by walking up alongside and touching her up, there was a language barrier but I got to play some catchball. But now I’m in jail regretting it…
Ah, you reminded me with foreigners.
I was with a friend doing some nanpa and there were these 2 hot blonde girls drinking some booze on a bench. Neither of us could speak any English, but they were really hot so we had to make a pass and give it a try. With level 5 English.
We started with “hawaiyuu” [ハワイユー/How are you?]… We actually managed to get through and make conversation. But they kept going on about drugs so we thought they might be trouble and were going to leave when a big macho American soldier type turned up and said something like “Hey Japs!” – we made a run for it.
SCARY. Watch out for those foreigners! I hear you.
Right. But not all foreigners are bad – the transfer students are pretty good! They don’t mind, and can understand a bit of Japanese.
What about if the girls ask you your job and education?
Ah, they do ask that. If you’ve nothing to brag about it might be best to embellish things. They’ll never know.
Do you really emphasise you’re hitting on them when you approach them?
It depends on the girl, but you need to think about things from their position. Most girls don’t want to hear that you’re just hitting on them, so it’s best to not to offend their sense of self respect too much.
How old were you again?
Do you get “reverse nanpa’ed”?
Yes, but it’s basically only uglies who do it. I’ve never been hit on by a cute girl.
Have you hit on girls at driving school?
Of course – it should be included in the fees.
Is there a type you should never approach?
I wouldn’t say never, but ones going somewhere, walking fast and looking at their destination, better not to.
Are there distinct patterns for nanpa?
Yes. From the start there are three approaches:
Is it OK to just come out and say “Are you free right now? Want to come for a good time with me?”?
Maybe it’s OK. But it’s best not to stress your lust like that.
Do you ever see girls you think are just too hot to approach? What about ones who are so hot they never get approached and so are in fact really easy?
Actually, I do get the impression the really hot ones can be easy to get. The incredible ones can be really nice too. But there are hardly any of them about!