You just have arrived in Japan alone with a purpose. Of course, you are gonna meet a lot of foreigners and make them friends. But still no matter how long your stay in Japan. we imagine you’ll want to meet locals to speak Japanese with, have a bite to eat, or do other activities. In this article, I have summarized the all tips of making Japanese friends that I learned from my experience. This article will be helpful for everyone. Even those who have no problem in Japanese are going to learn something new here.
When I came to Japan, I had textbook knowledge of the Japanese language but I never used it in real life. I had a plan to stay longer here. That’s why I wanted to be fluent in the Japanese language and wanted to learn the culture. It’s not easy to move to a country like Japan and get settled very quickly. I had a lot of troubles such as finding a part-time job, opening an account in a bank, registering a phone number, understanding the commuting methods, etc. My university Japanese friends helped me everywhere, they filled forms in Japanese for me, wherever it was needed. What I know and like about Japanese people is that they are honest, they don’t play politics and not gonna let you in any sort of trouble. Although, there are some misconceptions that foreigners have when they try to make Japanese friends. I hope this article deconstructs those misconceptions and offers you fruitful tips for making Japanese friends.
Get into Popular topics
By popular things, I mean popular anime, singers, artists, drama, music, movies, sports, etc. Like every other country people, Japanese people love to talk about all these things. No need to get so much into it, even if you know a few anime, musicians, TV personalities, movies, comedians, etc. it will be a good impression because Japanese people become happy if they see that a foreigner has knowledge and interest in their pop culture. This may give your conversation a start and make the conversation easier. You can go further and you can talk about your country or some other artist who is well known around the world. Not all Japanese but some Japanese follow foreign dramas, movies, songs, etc.
In case you have no Idea about Japanese pop culture. I would like to share my interest of topics:
1. Musicians/Bands: One OK Rock, Namie Amuro, sekai no owari
2. Comedy show: Non style
3. Movies/TV: Terrace house, Ame talk
4. Anime: Death note, Attack on titans
Learn Japanese Culture
If you can somehow manage to learn Japanese culture, trust me, it would help you a lot in your mission to make Japanese friends. Though it is not so easy to learn about the intricacies of the culture in Japan, it no doubt puts a great influence on friendship. As different cultures have different representations of manners, you should get to know about Japanese manners when intending to learn their culture.
You will learn the culture with the time in Japan and here are few things to be keep in mind about Japanese cultures:
A. Use three words wherever possible: Thank you (ありがとう), Sorry (すみません) and Please (おねがいします). These words can make everything easier and people around you happier. Use of these three words make you a responsible and make other people feel you are a trustable person.
B. Be careful about level of politeness: In Japan, there are 4 levels in politeness. Many of you must be aware of that.
● Honorific language (Keigo) : This is extra- polite language. This one is used
while talking to seniors, to customers etc.
- Formal (Desu-masu) : This is Polite way. This can also be used while talking to seniors or with the person you are meeting first time.
- Casual form ( da-ru) : This is used with younger or juniors or with friends.
- Slang : It must be used with close friends only.
In case you are confused with different these four, keep formal (desu-masu) as your basic way of talking because this can work everywhere.
Be punctual: As many of you know about this unique thing “Punctuality” of Japan.
Japanese people value time and if you make a plan with a Japanese person, just make sure that you reach there on time. And try not to cancel the plan at the last moment. Because they don’t like it and also, they won’t express how bad they feel about it.
Language Exchange and culture exchange
If you can understand why a Japanese person would want to become your friend, it can prove to be a key step towards your success in making such a friend. There may be plenty of reasons including his need to get help in English or any other language you are proficient in, his attraction towards foreign culture, etc. Or he/she may be interested in making you friend just for the sake of having someone different from all other friends in his/her friend-list. So the reason may be any. You will first have to understand the reason and then accordingly make an effective strategy to approach.
Part time Job
If you are in Japan for study, then you may need to do part time job to cover your daily expenses. There you meet other Japanese students working and spending time working with them as a team makes your connections better. But wait, It is not like same everywhere. There are may be part time jobs where you may be working alone or along with some old age person. My recommendation is to find a part time job in Izakaya or some similar restaurant, bars, clubs etc. Because chances of meeting friendly and fun loving Japanese people is high.
Drink party (Nomikai):
Japan has a culture of drinking party with their co-workers or colleagues to know each other more, make their bond stronger and celebrate. Because generally everyone is busy and this is the time they enjoy and talk on any random topic with beer in hand. On occasion like, graduation, welcome party, year end party, retirement party, birthday party, completion of semester etc. sometimes just after working hard whole week, they go to Izakaya and enjoy the night with alcohol. It’s a good opportunity to increase your circle. Never miss such opportunities.
Approach through existing friends
If you already have a Japanese friend and are intending to make more such friends, the task won’t be that awkward in such a situation. You have to just ask the existing Japanese friend to introduce you to other Japanese people in his contacts or friend list. If you are not comfortable or feel shy in making this request directly, you can come up with a suggestion to go for a sports activity in which more than 2 people are required and thus indirectly motivate your existing friend to call other Japanese people to join your group.
On the other hand, if you don’t already have a Japanese friend, but have someone in your friend circle who has a Japanese friend, it’s also a great opportunity for you to make the task easy. You can ask him to introduce you to that Japanese person.
Use socializing applications
The Japanese are very connected people: they have their noses permanently glued to their smart phone, in the street, in the metro and even in bars and nightclubs! And we mean smart phone, not phone. Everyone here has the latest model with all the apps and options. With an iPhone 4, you will pass for a peasant here. To approach these humans of the 3rd millennium, it is therefore better to adopt their tools and their ways of doing things.
Here are the apps and sites I recommend you go to and the apps you’d better have on your smartphone to socialize in Japan:
The app that all Japanese people use, we think. They all have a Facebook profile too, but they are less often on it. Usually, we are asked for the Line first before Facebook in Japan. It’s free messaging for those who don’t know, much like Whatsapp. You can use it on your computer but you have to activate it via a smart phone.
Yet another fairly used social network in Japan. It’s used a lot as a network in Japan, although of course here too this app has a bad reputation. It’s nice to have a smart phone to use it too. The fairly new network operates a bit like a dating site. If you like the other person’s photos and him / her too, you can start chatting. It’s pretty straightforward as a method, but it lets you know directly what the other one looks like, the opposite of the blind date.
A great site to find groups that are organizing events. There are groups on all topics and in all cities of Japan, just search by keyword. For example, international, cultural exchange or language. You can even create your own group. Once accepted into the group, go to the vents and meet the people. It’s that simple.
A great site for all things nightlife and travel based in the city of Osaka. A good way to meet lots of Japanese people who want to party. The parties are organized in several cities and their schedules are very comprehensive and available well in advance. They offer other activities like travel and also a “miscellaneous” tab where you can find and contact other people.
Elan International Parties is an organization that organizes international parties and meetings in the cities of Tokyo, Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. They organize a lot of events and manage to bring together a lot of people. The audience is predominantly made up of Japanese students looking to make contact with foreigners.
The classic, everyone knows. This social network was not that popular in Japan but in recent years, the number of new users is increasing and taking over compared to 100% Japanese networks like Mixi. Look for groups or organizations that create cross-cultural or international-style events. There are quite a few, but sometimes you have to search a little to find them.
If you are in Tokyo or in the Kansai region, I also recommend the Gaitomo evenings which allow foreigners and Japanese to meet during quiet evenings in bars. It’s fun and we often meet good people. The Japanese are very open and always come to talk to us.
- If you live in a hostel, you will often have flyers or magazines at the front desk that advertise various things. Sometimes some have parties so this is also a good place to start looking. The guesthouses organize, once a month on average, evenings between tenants so that you can meet your roommates in a festive setting. Sometimes you can even go to the parties of other guesthouses.
- For the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, etc.), there is also the Kansai Scene magazine. It’s in English and you can find announcements from people who want to hang out, chat and chat. You can also advertise there for free to find friends. It’s a monthly read by 20,000 people in the region.
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