Making friends as an adult isn’t easy. When we were in school we spent a good deal of time interacting with other students. That time interacting made bonding easy. When we enter the workforce and start living on our own, our time for socializing has to be squeezed into the time we are not working, cooking, and cleaning.
Now, if managing your busy schedule seems difficult, add onto that a language barrier and cultural barrier, then finding friends in Japan might seem pretty daunting.
Fear not, true believers, you are not the only one going through this endeavor. There are others like you, in Japan, who are looking for friends. But how do you find those people? Take out an ad in the newspaper saying “Friends Wanted”? Thankfully we live in an age where you can connect to anybody with a few clicks. Here are some quick suggestions.
Join a club
Do you like to draw? Are you a fan of board games? Do you have any hobbies that involve interacting with other people? If you do then finding friends can be a breeze.
Different groups tend to use different resources to schedule meetings, so you’ll need to check in a few places. Sometimes entering your hobby and your area into a search engine can reveal what other foreigners are doing around you. Some groups congregate on Facebook; if you find a Facebook group make sure it is active. Some groups that are more professionally-led (like having a teacher and requiring payment) will have their own website.
If you are having no luck scrolling through search engine pages, try Meetup.com. Meetup allows you to search for groups in your area based on a number of genres such as sports, book clubs, film, and art. There are interesting groups like ones for board games and ones that teach you to program.
Join a band
If you are someone with a serious passion for music then joining a band could be an option for finding friends. Japanese love their music: the Budokan is one of the most famous venues in the world, there are Japanese of all walks of life toting guitar bags though train stations, and during the weekends you’ll see small bands performing outside busy stations. If you want a first-hand experience on how much Japanese love their music then take a trip to Ochanomizu and check out all the new and used guitars, pianos, amps, and accessories. With all these people who love music, forming a band feels like a logical progression.
Bands are everywhere and come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. If you are trying to get into a band in Japan then visit the Japanese website With9.com. With9 is a recruiting site where bands post open positions. The website is very basic, no flashy images or smooth design; it is just a message board. If you can sift through some of the duplicate posts and open mic night postings, there are bands from all over Japan looking for others who are down to jam.
Go out and cosplay
This might be a little on the extreme side for those who have never dressed up for Halloween or attended a Comic-Con. Cosplaying is a great way to make friends. When you are cosplaying and with a group of cosplayers, the first thing to do, in between taking pictures, is mingle. Commonly, conversations start out with “how’d you make this sword?”, “it must be hot in that suit”, or even “how do you go to the bathroom in that thing”. From there conversations can take any number of turns.
Most of my time at Comic-cons is spent talking to cosplayers, whether I am in costume or partially out. A good or interesting costume can spark a conversation and turn heads. A little bit of work into a costume goes a long way for attracting others looking to share advice. Eventually it leads to joining mobile chats and working out what to do for the next event!
Making friends can be easy and it can be difficult. You have to stay flexible and respond to other people’s suggestions. Friendship is like taking care of a plant; friendship needs conversation to thrive like a plant needs water to survive. That’s what people tend to forget when they move to another country. When you are out in the world, in a country where nobody knows who you are, you have to make those face-to-face meetings and make them meaningful. Making friends sounds like work but the payoff can be worth the time and effort.
Software Engineer and Blogger at TalentHub
Usually coding, writing, or exploring Japan.
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