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What are some good ways of getting unambiguous (yet not too intrusive) contact details for Japanese people you meet on your travels?

Apparently, Japanese people don't have a middle name, and I've found that googling or Facebooking for someone based on their first and surname provides many different people. Email isn't bad, but a single character mistake is catastrophic, and as many people don't publish emails on the web, you can't google for an email address and have google tell you "Did you mean: X?"

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Everyone in Japan has a "name card" -- a business card -- with plenty of contact information. In most situations, an exchange of name cards is a fundamental part of the meeting ritual. If you are going to spend any time in Japan, you need to learn the fine points of the greeting ritual (especially how to properly respect the name card).

Granted, the name card is ubiquitous in business greetings and less so informally. But, I've picked up plenty of name cards from people I met at the train station, a bar, sitting next to me on the train, etc. And, you can certainly ask for a name card even if it is a very informal situation. Just be sure to have one of your own to hand back.

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I posted a question on etiquette/customs for exchanging business cards in Japan: – user82 Apr 9 '12 at 17:03
"Everyone" has name cards?! – Ankur Banerjee Apr 13 '12 at 17:22
Everyone has name cards, even little old ladies. Seriously. – RoboKaren Jan 29 at 2:19

I may be missing something obvious, but why not just ask them? I'm even inclined to suspect that, if they didn't share their contact details when you parted ways, they aren't necessarily that keen on staying in touch...

Also, Facebook isn't that popular in Japan, although it has gone a long way in closing the gap with local alternative Mixi in the last year.

2016 update: Mixi is dead (or at least comatose), Facebook is still kinda struggling, the current champion is Line.

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