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Making friends in Japan?
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MBee



Joined: 11 Aug 2011
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:06 am    Post subject: Making friends in Japan? Reply with quote

Hello,

I'm an American woman and I'm thinking of teaching in Japan. I'm wondering, do you find it easy or difficult to find friends (either Japanese or foreigner) while living and teaching there? Can anyone comment on what one can expect in terms of being able to make friends in rural areas vs. cities?

Thank you! And I wish you all the best, wherever you are in the world this evening. Smile
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't worry about it unless you are terribly shy and desperately need companionship. Japanese are less inclined to make close friends, but they are otherwise pretty nice. Depending on where you teach, you may find that some students want to go out for food, drink, or sports with the teacher. Beware of the English leeches in that situation.

Your foreign friends will initially probably be confined to coworkers and anyone they know who tag along. Beware the chronic complainers, and if you want to learn Japanese, minimize your exposure to foreigners.

Rural vs. urban odds? It all depends on you, your work hours, and the environment.
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Rooster_2006



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
Posts: 984

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
I wouldn't worry about it unless you are terribly shy and desperately need companionship. Japanese are less inclined to make close friends, but they are otherwise pretty nice. Depending on where you teach, you may find that some students want to go out for food, drink, or sports with the teacher. Beware of the English leeches in that situation.
I agree with this entire paragraph.

Glenski wrote:
Your foreign friends will initially probably be confined to coworkers and anyone they know who tag along.
True. Whoever you are in shared activities with, those people are more likely to become your friends. Since all English teachers in Japan have the activity of "teaching English in an organization (school, university, eikaiwa, corporation, etc.)" the first friends will likely come from the workplace unless that teacher is the only one at his/her organization.

Glenski wrote:
Beware the chronic complainers,
Chronic complainers (Japan bashers) are no fun, but then, neither are chronic apologists. I try to steer clear of both types. Japan has both good things and bad things, and I prefer to hang around with people who are able to acknowledge this. The bashers only see the bad. The apologists only see the good and ignore/dismiss the bad. Both types of people are out of touch with reality and I find both types to be extremely annoying.
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MBee



Joined: 11 Aug 2011
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, these are both very thoughtful and encouraging replies.
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 680
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rooster_2006 wrote:
Whoever you are in shared activities with, those people are more likely to become your friends.


If you want to focus on meeting Japanese people, I would recommend joining a sports team or other group activity. Yoga, tennis, karate-whatever floats your boat.

You can eliminate much of the "language leech" factor and practice more Japanese.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1087
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are young and "genki", you'll have no problem meeting new people who are into meeting new people.

For insight into the lives of women living in Japan, see http://www.being-a-broad.com/

Ditto what Steki47 says - join a group that does a sport or activity and you'll be able to meet people with common interests.

Don't worry about hanging with foreigners a lot. Meetup.com is a great way to hang out with international people (Japanese who've lived abroad, non-Japanese, etc.) with whom you share an interest.
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 680
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And don't knock hanging out with your roommates/co-workers. Many of them will have been in Japan for some time and are often willing to show you around.

My roomies at Nova took me out to an izakaya and showed the supermarket, video store, etc.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 1095

PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah, I made tons of friends at my gyms. One was a weight gym frequented by Pro wrestlers. The other was BJJ, and I made a lot of friends there as well. You know you are in, when a Japanese person has you watch their 3yo
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move



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 113

PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's easy to make foreigner friends. I probably hang out with foreigners here that I wouldn't hang out with at home. For Japanese people, yeah, they are shy at first. Being a friend of one of their friends goes a hell of a long way though. Also, the image of foreigners is that they tend to move a lot or not stay in the country so long, or can't speak Japanese. If you can speak Japanese (or they can speak English) it's easy to move beyond just being acquaintances.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 111

PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Beware of the English leeches in that situation.


Pretty true, and those just looking to practice English vs. friendship can often be weeded out by a request to speak in Japanese as much as English.

Likewise, on many occasions I'd be out with a foreign friend drinking & talking and we'd be approached by people wanting to talk--in English naturally. Most of the time it was no big deal, but sometimes it was irritating, and the switch to Japanese usually ended it rather quickly.

Glenski wrote:
Beware the chronic complainers


Very good advice. I'd have to say that in my experiences with foreign co-workers in Japan, this was by far the most annoying aspect of the job on a day-to-day basis, though with the implosion of NOVA and the massive eikaiwa schools, this may be less of a problem.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1087
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whingers are boring. You can meet other teachers and comiserate at events advertised on ELT Calendar. http://www.eltcalendar.com/
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 1095

PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not just the crybabies, stay away from the people who never grow up, Too many gaijin in Japan tend to act like they are in HS or college, and just party all the time.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 370

PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is easy to fall into the trap of hanging out at bars to make friends. Think about whether this is what you do at home to make friends or not.

This time round in Japan I started taking a yoga class at a community center, and I've made some good friends doing that.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 111

PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rooster_2006 wrote:
Chronic complainers (Japan bashers) are no fun, but then, neither are chronic apologists. I try to steer clear of both types. Japan has both good things and bad things, and I prefer to hang around with people who are able to acknowledge this. The bashers only see the bad. The apologists only see the good and ignore/dismiss the bad. Both types of people are out of touch with reality and I find both types to be extremely annoying.


You have a good point. People able to see the good and bad often the best types to be around. I used to work with a guy who spoke Japanese fluently, but never flaunted it or showed off when the majority around were English speakers, was well-skilled in martial arts, married to a Japanese woman and had kids, and could see the good and bad of both cultures and never forgot the fact that he was an American---and boy did he love his McDonalds. Always very, very funny whenever someone fresh off the boat showed up at the school and sneered "Don't you know you're in Japan? There's so much good food here---why don't you open your mind! Why would you come all the way here to eat that!"

Though he could have come back hard, as lots of people in the same position probably would have, he always just laughed---"Well, I like it--so what," cementing their pre-conceived notion that he was a typical American idiot----while almost always, once culture shock set in, those folks would become just another one of the chronic complainers.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it's easy to make good friends with Japanese people. And by 'good friends' I mean people that will want to go for a drink/shopping/whatever every weekend, rather than every month or two. I suspect the amount of time spent knowing each other, rather than feeling a 'connection' with the person, counts for more in Japan than it does in the west. It seems to me that most friendships are formed at work, and that any significantly older come from club activities while at school. I could be wrong though!

Definitely join a sports team or do a group activity. Japanese like to have what I'd describe as 'organised fun', and if you're a part of a group you should find yourself automatically included in stuff, rather than wondering how you go about getting an invite.

I would strongly recommend you find a couple of foreign friends too. Japan is a weird and wonderful place, and even if it's people you wouldn't hang out with back home (the vast majority for me!), you will probably need to go for a beer or a coffee and just get some things off your chest. Sharing your new experiences with fellow newcomers (or otherwise - do beware the jaded moaners) is a great way to bond too, if you are lucky enough to find some people you click with.
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