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One of the things I like about travelling to Japan is that it's possible, if you know some Japanese, to travel to destinations where your fellow travellers are predominantly domestic travellers, rather than from your own country. I enjoy having a two hour breakfast talking to fellow travellers, late nights in an izakaya, or talking in English to schoolchildren at a museum. The problem is, most people I meet are either schoolchildren or retirees!

Outside of public holiday periods like Golden Week, what destinations within Japan have a large proportion of travellers who are Japanese, and in their twenties and thirties? Preferably not overwhelmingly male.

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you're an experienced user, but I think you need to read our FAQ 5 times before you ask a question! –  Dirty-flow Jun 15 '13 at 12:51
    
I count like 4-6 possible questions in there. I get the gist of what you're trying to ask, but it's largely vague and subjective, which as you know is not adhering to the faq. I think it's salvageable, but needs a reedit, for sure. –  Mark Mayo Jun 15 '13 at 14:44
    
@MarkMayo I've simplified the question. How is it now? –  Andrew Grimm Jun 16 '13 at 11:17
    
You may want to have a look at the Couchsurfing web platform. I don't know about Japan, but in many places there are regular meetings where you can find people of all ages, of course many of them foreigners too. There also may be language exchange meetings announced. –  feklee Jun 16 '13 at 12:57
    
I expect with CouchSurfing in Japan most places are offered by English teachers over there. But then again my friend in Yamagata City used to take couchsurfers a couple of years ago. –  hippietrail Oct 21 '13 at 13:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

For classical tourism locations, you might be having troubles since people of that age do not really like to travel to temples and other places that tourists like.

Younger Japanese people prefer to go abroad (Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand) since this is often cheaper than traveling in Hong Kong. And since they have to go to Japanese temples and museums with the schools, they are rather happy not to have to do that once they have a choice.

If you want to meet young people, nightlife is surely the better solution, no matter where. On the other hand, you might want to consider locations like Tokyo Disneyland or Disney Sea Land, since those also attract a lot of different aged people.

Another option that I can highly recommend is going to Matsuris, concerts and fireworks, specially now that summer is approaching. Why?

  • Matsuris happen frequently and are often used by younger people to dress up and meet. They normally last one day or a weekend and allow you to interact with people. You will of course also meet families with kids, but still have a fair share of younger people. Many temples have one day in the year where they organize one, and often block off some smaller street from the traffic where then small games are setup for people to (pay and) play. While there are much bigger ones, the smaller ones will allow you more to meet people who live around the corner.
  • Fireworks in Japan, specially in Tokyo can be a huge event where more people show up than you would care to count (approaching a million). For the ones in Tokyo Bay, you will likely see the largest amount of people outside a stadium ever in your life. But since people go there early to find a spot to see the fireworks, stand around, drink beer and eat street food for hours, they present a perfect opportunity to walk around until you meet a friendly group you can share a beer with. The biggest difference from the Matsuri is that people come from further away, and whomever you meet might not be able to stay in touch with you.
  • Concerts are great to meet people for all the obvious reasons, same as everywhere else in the world. If you get to show that you like Japanese music, you show your interest in the local culture and will most likely not meet a lot of other foreigners.

One more option to mention are general hangout-spots like parks, open-air restaurants and bars etc. Since Japan after all is a crowded place, wherever you go will give you options to sit close to people without coming over creepy and get to talk to people. I personally found that just sitting at a sushi-counter is a great place to start conversations with the chef and in return also with the people sitting next to you.

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In addition to uncovery's answer which I wholeheartedly agree with, beaches are a great choice too. Part-time staff in bars and restaurants often have a day off on a weekday, and they are generally younger, so even during the week you should be able to find some people to talk to.

As an archipelago, there are a lot of beaches. Find one that has easy access on a train line within an hour of a major city and you will likely find a lot of people. Depending on where you are, Lake Biwa may be closer and fills the same role.

For night life, bars tend to be the best choice (over Izakaya or Night Clubs) because they are focused on smaller groups of drinkers and are generally quiet enough to talk in. These can be found in almost any city, though they probably won't start filling up on weekdays until after 7 or 8pm.

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I didn't notice too many bars. Maybe I wasn't going to the entertainment districts enough, though. Are they called "バー", or something else? –  Andrew Grimm Jun 27 '13 at 7:27
    
You have it right, they are usually called バー. What city are you looking in? West or East? Major or minor? –  jmac Jun 27 '13 at 7:28
    
You didn't notice many bars??? Were you in the same Japan I was in? (-: They do tend to be concentrated in "entertainment districts" though. By the way if beach resorts are good for meeting local traveller in the summer I would bet that snow resorts would be good in the winter too. –  hippietrail Oct 21 '13 at 13:59
    
@hippietrail I visit a different Japan to you. :) –  Andrew Grimm Oct 22 '13 at 7:05
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@hippie, there is definitely more free time outside of cities. The commutes are generally shorter, the cost of living far lower, and generally a far slower lifestyle. On the Japan-sea side or up in the mountains tends to be very different than Tokyo or Osaka, or any industrial area. If you're traveling there though, there are far fewer places to meet people (because there are far fewer young people). –  jmac Oct 25 '13 at 4:02

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