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Not sure if I should ask here or in Interpersonal Skills, but the situation arises because of travel, so I'll try here. Feel free to move it if needed.

Last year I travelled for 1 month with a couple of foreign friends I made through the internet to Japan. It was a fun, learning experience, mainly because it was my first time travelling relatively alone for such a long time and it was also my first time ever meeting those friends face to face, so we did a lot of catching up there too. Since it was our first time together and for many parts of the trip I was the most fluent in Japanese, we mainly did everything together.

I'm back in my home country, but the group liked it so we will probably repeat the trip next year. This time around though, I'll probably try to enjoy certain parts of the trip getting to know the locals more instead of only sticking to our group. I can get around speaking conversational Japanese (Besides English and Spanish), so it would probably be fun if I could have a few local friends.

I would not consider myself an outgoing person but I've been putting effort into changing that lately, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to both improve my communication skills and get something new out of travelling. This is because I've spent most of my life studying and working, so the network of people I've made is centered around long-term group activities like that. I don't have much experience making friends out of random encounter. That said, I found it a little bit difficult to find places to meet local people in Japan in a short-term stay. Most foreign people I know that live there say they make friends by joining a club, participating in certain group events, at work, etc. but that's a bit difficult due to time. I come from a Latin American culture if that is of any relevance.

How can I make local friends in Japan? Which places are good for meeting locals? I've read about Roppongi for example being a hotspot for foreigners, but I haven't really tried nightlife like that alone before. Are cafes good places to start up a conversation? How do I even do this without coming along as awkward or dangerous? Are there any kind of events specifically aimed at people trying to make friends?

I'll mostly be around Tokyo, but I'll be travelling to other parts of the country as well, so any general suggestion is welcome.

  • I took a deeper look into the archives and was able to find this question which probably is a good answer in itself for this case, but specifically asks for in-country travellers. I want to ask more about potential locals rather than people from other prefectures, for example. Also, while I am relatively young? (27), age is not a limiting factor in the options I am looking for. – Eriol Oct 15 '18 at 20:10
  • Please do NOT talk to strangers, it is very rude to talk to strangers in Japan, especially at Tokyo. Anyway, it is very difficult to make friends in your situation. Most Japanese don’t know how to make friends, either, once graduated from university. Also Japanese are very picky about who to make friends with, and even among Japanese it is generally not possible to make friends if someone is from different age group, academic history, marital status, income level, looks, job status, etc... let alone foreigners. It is also not uncommon that the current 20s have no friends except online. – Blaszard Oct 16 '18 at 15:55
  • @Blaszard I'm not so sure about that. During that month I was able to talk to strangers in the long lines of Comiket, a few izakayas and even after visiting onsen (a few bros wanted to peek over the long divider, a matter of 'roman' every man can sympathize with) and it has been a nice experience overall. Thing is, we just bonded for a few moments and the environments were a bit hectic since the focus was not to meet other people. I specifically want to know if there are places where this is the main focus, so speaking to strangers is expected. Thank you for your feedback, though. – Eriol Oct 16 '18 at 21:55
  • That is on top of harassing others who don’t like to be talked to. Imagine a man praises the body of a woman. There are certainly some women who want to be praised but also others who find it disgusting and consider it sexual harassment. And if there is a moderate amount of women who don’t like it, everyone should refrain, even though it deprives some women of the opportunity to be praised. Talking to strangers is similar, there is not any single reasons for doing that. And actually talking to strangers is practically zero at Tokyo. – Blaszard Oct 17 '18 at 0:13
  • If I were to advise you, I first recommend to go to other cities. Osaka, Kobe, and Fukuoka should be more lax than Tokyo. Then, at many cities 街コン is hold, that is people from that city gather to enjoy drinks or dinners together. The review is mixed but that is what people participate for the purpose of getting to know new people. Foreigners might not be expected to be there, though. Or dating app is common as well but very few matches end up in being friends. Anyway, making friends is difficult even for locals in Japan. – Blaszard Oct 17 '18 at 0:26
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meetup or more specific meetup Tokyo is a good website for you.

You can browse by place and type (formal, social, chitchat, etc), also by category (techs, travel, books) that you want to have conversation about.

I, personally, prefer to visit some pub meeting in Shibuya/Shinjuku during weekend.

Usually there are 1 or 2 hour-long meeting with a predefined topic to talk about. Half of the time will be Japanese and then switch to English (mostly).

  • Do you have any specific pubs in mind? I know some chains like Hub and Hobgoblin, at the very least, but it would be good if someone with more experience could point out good places to meet. – Eriol Oct 16 '18 at 21:51
  • meetup.com/ja-JP/Japanese-Speaking-Chat-Friends-Meetup. This meeting is quite fun and is one of my favorites, take place at a coffee shop. People are quite open. – Binh Oct 17 '18 at 0:50
  • Yeah, that's a pretty good suggestion. Would this apply for other prefectures or are there other platforms besides meetup for these kind of reunions? I can navigate Japanese if needed. – Eriol Oct 17 '18 at 19:53
  • Yes, this apply for other prefectures too. And sorry because I mainly use meetup and don't really sure about other tools. How I see sometimes on Facebook, in the event section, provides lots of event/meeting all around me. – Binh Oct 18 '18 at 0:56

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