Make Japanese Friends and Deep Connections

Much is written about the tough time some people have when they try to make Japanese friends. With these 5 tips and suggestions you can create a real friendship during your travels or live-abroad experience in Japan. Bring back more than a souvenir, find your new Japanese BFF.

Having fun after a run with the Tokyo Shitamachi Runners Group on Meetup.com — photo by Lauren Shannon
  1. Go Online to Discover Offline Connections: These days sites like Meetup.com are universal. Travel to almost any developed country and you will find people using meetup to make new friends who share a common interest. Before you come to Japan check out all the groups on www.meetup.com . Cross-cultural friendship groups abound, as do international groups with both local and foreign members. Even better, you can choose interest meetups like art, anime, tea ceremony or sports — so you can connect with your new Japanese friend around a topic you both enjoy.
I met some lovely Halloween party folks- dressed as zombie minions! photo by Lauren Shannon

2. Attend Events and Festivals: Heading out to some big festival or event is a great way to meet new people and make Japanese friends. I am not sure why, but being in the party mood certainly helps build connections. When I went to the huge Halloween gathering in Shibuya, Tokyo, I met some great new people and made plans to get together again later. Catching the often reserved local Japanese in festival mode is a wonderful way to break the ice.

I’ve made great local Japanese friends by sharing my love of traditional crafts. — photo by Lauren Shannon

3. Tell them what you love: Everyone loves to hear terrific things about themselves and their country. You obviously have an interest in Japan so be effusive with your praise and let the Japanese folks you meet know what you love about their homeland. This discussion will help you both get to know each other. And it will frame the interaction in a positive light.

Clocktower in Hyogo Prefecture — photo by Lauren Shannon

4. Be on time to be culturally sensitive: The stereotype of punctuality is based in some truth in Japan. Do your best to be on time or even early if you are meeting a new Japanese friend. This cultural sensitivity shows you are true to your word and that you respect their time. Also foreigners are seen as being somewhat unpredictable in Japan so by being punctual you will put your new Japanese friends at ease.

I always love making friendships over great food, from fancy meals to simple bentos!

5. Eat Together: The best way to make Japanese friends or really to make new friends anywhere, is by sharing food together. Learning about local cuisine, asking questions and trying new things, will expand your horizons. Chatting over a tasty meal or a casual bento box lunch creates a great atmosphere for making Japanese friends

Trying out these simple tips will certainly make it easier to connect to the culture and meet new people to share your future adventures.

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