How to Make Japanese Friends and Enjoy the Best out of Your Stay in Japan!
“Omotenashi (hospitality)” was the keyword which gained lots of attention in 2013 when it was used in the candidature speech by Japan to invite the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo. Many of you may already have heard the word somewhere. Japanese people have placed high value on hospitality since long ago. If you want to make the best out of your stay in Japan, the best way is, presuming such goodwill of Japanese people, to make friends with a Japanese and directly learn from him or her about Japanese culture and everyday lives. We wish you a lot of fun during your stay in Japan!
Tips for Short-Term Visitors
1. Find a Volunteer Guide at a Tourist Spot!
Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo, https://www.flickr.com
At famous tourist spots in Tokyo and other big cities such as Meiji Jingu Shrine, Asakusa and the Imperial Palace, you can find many students from college English Study clubs working as volunteer guides. You can take advantage of the free tour guide service they offer and learn about the tourist spot, Japanese culture and traditions, which will surely be the source of better information than any travel guide book. It would also be a great idea to ask them for restaurant and shop recommendations.
2. Make Friends with English Learning Japanese at a Pub!
HUB is a British style pub chain which has become popular in the Kanto and Kansai Area as a place where non-Japanese can casually drop in for drinks. Their branches are always packed with people moving and mingling around or watching a sports program on TV while taking bites from the buffet. Among customers here are always many non-Japanese as well as Japanese who frequent here to seek opportunities to speak English with those visitors from outside Japan, so you can easily make some good Japanese friends here. Website
Tips for Middle to Long-Term Visitors
Join an English Conversation Practice Group
1. Cafe Eikaiwa
“Cafe Eikaiwa” is organized on a regular basis as an event for English learners of all levels to casually enjoy English conversation at a cafe (“eikaiwa” means English conversation). As most of the people joining the events are Japanese, you can join one of them and enjoy a language exchange with Japanese people. Or, you may also be able to ask someone you meet here to show you around some tourist spots, which will add some great experience to your stay in Japan. Besides some areas in Tokyo, these events are also held in Kanagawa, Chiba, Kobe, Osaka and Fukuoka. Website
2. Vital Japan
Vital Japan is organized as a study / exchange gathering where attendants exchange their views and ideas on business, public policy and various other topics. Attendants are quite varied in the age range – anywhere from 20s to seniors, and sometimes include those from English speaking countries. A convivial party is held at the end of every gathering and it will be a great opportunity to learn how to get into business in Japan, understand the mindset of Japanese people or get yourself in some heated discussions. Website
Visit an English Conversation Cafe
3. English Conversation Cafe Mickey House
This is an English conversation cafe in Takadanobaba, Tokyo, whose clerks are non-Japanese people from outside Japan. Depending on the day of the week and the hours, different theme language of various levels are set for each table; English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese. This is a great place to make friends with not only Japanese people but also people of a variety of countries and backgrounds. Website
4. English Conversation Cafe Cafeliz
People wanting to study English, Chinese, French, Portuguese and other languages gather at this cafe in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. If your native language is English, you can join the English table with a cheap table charge. You can also join the Japanese table designed for non-Japanese to exchange friendship with Japanese and practice Japanese conversation. This is yet another great place that allows you to make friends and learn a language at one time. Website
Making Friends at Your Place of Stay
1. Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro
This hostel in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, is known and favored by many non-Japanese backpackers. It is of course also used by many Japanese and has dormitory type rooms. If you get to make friends with someone staying in the same room or at the shared kitchen, you might be able to enjoy sightseeing together or get some useful information.
The hostel has Sakura Cafe & Restaurant Ikebukuro on the 1st floor, where many non-Japanese tourists and Japanese people are enjoying socializing across the cultures. Website
2. Khaosan Group
The first branch of this backpackers-oriented hostel/guest house chain is located in Asakusa, the good old tourist spot in Tokyo. Today, there are 12 branches of the chain in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hokkaido, Kanazawa and Atami, so it is recommendable for those visiting not only Tokyo but also other tourist spots around Japan. While each of their buildings has its own unique design with a Japanese atmosphere, “Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki” in Asakusa is especially notable for its design themed on Kabuki, Japanese traditional performance art. You can fully enjoy the authentic Japanese atmosphere even just by looking at the exterior of the hostel. Each hostel of the chain features a shared kitchen and a bar, where you can mingle up with Japanese tourists and be friends with them. Website
As we have seen, you can go for any of the options listed above and make a Japanese friend or two. Your new friend will surely be your good company during your stay in Japan and help you discover traditional as well as new aspects of Japan. We bet you will end up bringing back home a lot of good stories to tell from your trip!
We are also accepting your questions on anything about Japan at the free forum within our website. Please check it out as well!