Aug 30, 2017
Finding others to practice Japanese with in the country of Japan would presumably be fairly easy since everyone here can speak Japanese. Unfortunately many people find it a difficult task. Here are just a few ideas and things that I or friends that I know have done to find others to practice their Japanese skills with.
This includes events like Rainbow Pride parade, Samba party, Holi festival in Japan...etc. Almost any event where there is likely to be large groups of foreigners, you will also find large groups of Japanese people who are interested in finding foreign friends. Facebook is a great place to start if you live anywhere near Tokyo. If you are more in the country, then check out your city hall for events throughout the year. If there seems to be none, then get proactive and organize an international food festival where everyone brings a dish. Get talking to the people in your town hall or community center to see if you can throw something together and bring people with interest into the same space. Check out nearby towns too.
2. International parties
This is slightly different from event, only because they are usually a bit more private, and there is a fee to attend. I attended several during my first few years here, mostly in Shibuya and Shinjuku. I would just do a google search for international party and there are often calendar schedules with different things going on. Some of the parties are similar to Japanese “gokon” or speed dating, while others are in cafes and everyone just sits around and chats. Pick something that seems to suit your fancy and go for it. Even if you don’t end up making friends, it will give you good experience in the long run.
Couchsurfing.com is a website geared for travelers. The idea is, those willing to house someone for a night or two on their couch post themselves as available, and others can surf around the globe from couch to couch, cutting the cost of hotel and hostel stays. Not everyone on here surfs or lends their couch, but there are many who are very interested in just having a cup of tea or coffee together and sharing their culture with those around them. Couchsurfing also has an events page, so it is a good source for meeting new people if you are near enough to a major city.
Hellotalk is a free language learning app. I haven’t personally used this yet, but I know someone who has made many friends using it. It is especially great for someone wishing to increase reading proficiency because you type to each other instead of talking in person. This is also helpful for those out in the countryside or out of country because you don’t need to be near the person to become friends. However, don't be surprised if you accidently run into someone you know but have never met while riding the train (this happened twice to my friend using hellotalk)
5. Bars and cafes
Drunk people will love to talk to anyone. They don’t care about language barriers or awkwardness. You can’t expect them to remember you in the morning, but meeting people in bars can be great for practice.
The biggest thing about making friends in Japan is courage. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself. It’s ok. Everyone will laugh, and you should too. The more persistent you are to be someone’s friend, the less likely they are to blow you off. Go where ever the conversations take you, and if there is that awkward moment or two, just shrug it off. The less you make a big deal about it, the less others will even notice it was awkward.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too