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Do's and Don'ts with Japanese penpals 2007/7/9 08:33
I am curious as of what's okay to say in e-mail/letter.

For some reason I am unable to keep Japanese penpals. So I don't know if I have mention something that they are not comfortable with. It's hard to know because I come from different culture.

Here's what I have learned not to mention in e-mails. I don't know if it's correct or not. Let me know so I can be better with my e-mails.

Tell them that I am deaf.

That I went through an emergency even if it's a broke arm or taking my dog to emergency room.

That they are not correct on something.

I am trying to be nice, since I am opened mind. So I can accept many thing people have throw at me, but I don't know about another way around. But I guess I must have messed up something. I would like to know ahead so I can do it right way.

Any help can be appreciated. Thanks.

by SWD  

. 2007/7/10 12:47
I don't see why you would not want to tell someone you are deaf. In fact if someone doesn't write back or respond because of that, I doubt that is someone you want to keep as a penpal.

Finding a penpal is easy keeping them is the harder part. Some write one or two letters then quit. So you have to really keep at it to find someone to be a friend.

As for going to the hospital etc, I guess that would be perfectly fine to tell a penpal once you established a steady stream of communication.
by John rate this post as useful

Japanese shyness 2007/7/10 14:51
With my experience abroad, I found the culture to be accepting of mostly "normal" people. It is much harder there to accept people who have "unnormal" challenges such as mental illnesses, being handicapped or just plain visibly different. I may be wrong, but from a Western point of view, this is what I got during my three months stay there. They also like to keep a physical and emotional distance between others, not just between strangers but also new friends. Sometimes even when they have been friends for a very long time, they still call each other by a last name basis. Though today's younger generation is slowly changing the comfort zone, some more conservative values may still be maintained especially if they grew up in a traditional family.
With this knowledge, you can kinda get a perspective of how surprised some of your pen pals may be when you start talking about your own personal problems/lifestyles. Now, I'm not saying every Japanese person is like this, but from what I learned by staying there, this was the general impression I received. So until you feel your pen pal is more confident in sharing more information about their lives, leave the personal details out. Keep it to things you like, your favorite TV show/food, what you did today... etc.

Of course, another reason why they don't write back may be laziness. *shrug* but, good luck!
by Miko rate this post as useful

tips from experience 2007/7/10 15:37
I agree with John. Plus it's also hard to keep up a friendship when you're younger. I myself lost contact with most people I knew when I was young.

I don't know why, but I've successfully kept contact with those who started exchanging emails with me in the recent years (well, looking back at the 45 years of my life, the technique of emailing only became available in the recent years). All of them are in their 30s or older, some Americans and some Japanese, but open-minded people.

I got to know all these people, not through penpal-seeking sites, but through sites of mutual interest such as fan sites and other sites with special themes. This is probably one of the main reasons we always have so much to talk about and that no one cares if the other party mentions something extraordinary.

Another reason that we haven't lost contact is that we never force each other. We all know that we're busy with our jobs or families, and we'd write only a few times a year, sometimes speeding up or slowing down depending on the situation. But since I have lots of friends who email me, I'm always writing to someone.
by Uco rate this post as useful

I know what exactly you mean 2007/7/10 15:54
I have been (or tried I should say) talking to this one girl from Japan and after talking two times she doesn't even get on the messenger any more. The other one I was talking to on a regular basis and I wasn't on the messenger just for a few days and now when I send her messages to her now she just ignores me. So I took the attitude of 'I give up'; but after reading some of these posts maybe I just need to keep trying until I find a good penpal.
by Joe rate this post as useful

....... 2007/7/11 06:23
People, this is internet, what are you expecting?

Half of the people looking for penpals are just plainly bored and are looking for someone to break the monotony of their life.

A few years back I must've changed like 50 Japanese penpals, mostly due to the reason that they couldn't stay in touch for more than a few weeks.

However, among those 50 morons who wasted my time just to practice English, I managed to find a really nice friend, who eventually became my girlfriend. We went through some hardships but it seems like it's gonna be a lasting relationship.

I wouldn't give up just yet. It's hard to find any decent people on these forums, but once you do, you could make an awesome friend for life.
by Dude rate this post as useful

. 2007/7/11 11:29
I've started 8 penpals this month. Only two still reply back. One asks questions and really nothing more, and due to her poor English skills doesn't understand half my answers.
The other we talk about teaching. Trying to think of another topic to move to.

Just keep trying and hope for the best.
by Jonci rate this post as useful

. 2007/7/11 12:12
I see...thank you guys for your answers.
by SWD rate this post as useful

SWD 2007/7/12 05:36
Unfortunately for people seeking real friends, many people on penpal sites are looking for ways to perfect language or are looking for a mate. If they are looking for a mate, then they will sometimes stop writing when they find one and only write the one they choose. If seeking a language perfecting partner, then they may not be interested in personal things but just casual conversation.
It can be difficult to discover the reason for a person wanting foreign penpals. Now if the penpal writes always requesting pictures, blood type etc. He or she probably wants a bf/gf etc.
I have a few friends who are penpals and a few language exchange friends but I receive numerous requests for pictures, personal info, etc from people seeking a gf. But I am already very taken so I of course do not write to those people.
by Umi rate this post as useful

penpal etiquette 2007/12/17 21:33
It is definitely frustrating when people don't get back to you. I think e-mail etiquette in the U.S. is that you should get back to people within a week.

Do Japanese people really believe it's ok to stop writing for a month or two and then resurface? I had a penpal who has done this. I think the best thing is just to ignore such a flighty person. They really don't think it's rude?

I don't believe Japanese people are just accustomed to slower e-mail responses. Don't they chat every few minutes by keitai?

I guess it's not crazy to be like that, but I wonder if there's any point to communicating on such an infrequent basis?

by NYC_bloke rate this post as useful

Instant Messenger/SMS 2007/12/17 21:36
I forgot to ask. Is it considered a big thing to be added to someone's instant messenger list? A step above regular e-mail? Would people feel that's a bit too personal for a somewhat new penpal?

by NYC_bloke rate this post as useful

You also have to understand.. 2007/12/18 07:52
Well the thing is, if you are young (College or younger) your penpal, assuming they are the same age, will have a lot of school work. My penpal is taking Highschool entrance exams (although she is a little younger than me) so sometimes she can only send e-mails 3 times a month, when we used to talk everyday. But I also have school, so we are both still good friends because we understand this. I would suggest getting a pen pal who is interested in making friends: not just language practice. It is extra fun when you talk through e-mail and letter, so that way if they cant get online, you still get a letter from them. It cheers you up!
by RainyDays rate this post as useful

Yeah. 2007/12/18 08:07
Sometimes I don't response for about one month. Sometimes my penpals don't either. I understand that they may be busy. I do feel bad when I don't response that quickly but sometimes it's hard if you are distracted by something or is not having a good year.

by SWD rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/18 08:59
I started trying to get in mail contact with japanese people through the ads of this website, because I moved to Japan and was looking for new people to meet.
When posting my own ad, I got a lot of responses, but many of those only wrote a couple of times. Since I still have three or four people to write to and also meet some on a more or less regular basis, I dont care that much about the people who don't write anymore, otherwise I would write a second time asking if everything is ok and that I haven't heard anything from them, but that would be it. No need to stress oneself.

I also heard that japanese people sometimes don't answer emails for weeks, because they are busy. This also happened to me twice. I don't think the japanese people consider it really rude, it is generally understood that someone might not have the time to answer.
With keitai mail, it's completely different, this system is mainly used for writing short messages. If someone uses their keitai to write lengthy mails to you, then it is natural that they want to do this when they have enough time for a proper answer.
I perfer a late but lengthy mail over a sloppy short "Hi, still alive but busy, cya". :)

Umi, may I ask, what is so important about knowing the bloods type of another person? :) The japanese seem to be interested in that very much, I heard that even for certain celebrities and idols the blood type is well known among fans.
I don't even know my own blood type. :)
by Haf rate this post as useful

I feel you, SWD 2007/12/18 13:05
I've been having the same trouble as SWD here. One of the things I've picked up on - Don't ask too much about getting help with the language, I think it annoys them a bit. I dunno though, since I don't ask much unless I am practicing new material.

Other than that, I wish I could get a penpal/friend that would keep in contact. Record so far is 3 weeks.
by xXHellTestamentXx rate this post as useful

Blood type 2007/12/18 18:11

what is so important about knowing the bloods type of another person? :) The japanese seem to be interested in that very much, I heard that even for certain celebrities and idols the blood type is well known among fans.
I don't even know my own blood type. :)

All answered here...

Incidentally, I didn't know my own blood type until I moved to Japan either.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

A few words... 2007/12/19 03:52
Touching on the original post:

I do not see a persons physical or life challenges as being unfit for exchange. It is part of who you are or what you are going through, so why not share it with your pen pal. I do however; feel that like any relationship, you have to build up how personal you get with the other person. There are still levels of trust that need to be met.

Going on to other points made here:

I think that for a start if we eliminate the potential pen pals that are bored, looking for a date or hands on language exchange, those looking for friends that live near them, those only interested in people of a particular sex or age (including those that state it does not matter), then PERHAPS we are left with people that are interested by virtual of them writing an ad.

However, we have to remember that there are a number of Japanese who use language translation software to try to make sense of our e-mail. Under the best circumstances this is difficult. Try typing an entry into something like gWorldLingoh (free online) and have it translate it to Japanese. Then copy and paste that gJapaneseh translation and have the same program translate it back to English. This may explain why some of the disappearing pen pals disappear.

I find that writing short emails are best. If you read and write or at least read Japanese, then write if you can in Japanese and some in English. This allows the pen pal to do the same. Do not look for quick responses since time schedules and such sometimes makes it difficult to write back. I you find that a pen pal suddenly disappears; wait a while and then you make the effort.

I have had my share of dead end pen pals, yet I have had some success and have made a few real friends in the process. Maybe what I have written will help.

by tenshi rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/19 04:06
I really wish I do know some Japanese so that I can help out. This is one reason why I wish I could find deaf Japanese penpals because I was wondering how do they learn their own language, which is some of hardest languages in the world.

I learned through emails to write a short emails. That does make sense, if I am using foreign language I would definitely want penpal to write me a short message, lol.
by SWD rate this post as useful

My opinion 2007/12/19 05:02

First I would say that I think that when someone agree to have a penpal, it's to share. And sharing means sharing difference too.

So, I sometimes do not hide to my japanese penpals things that I know that I know that will surprise them or that they will not enjoy so much. And I hope that they would do the same for me. It helps to be open minded.

However, my japanese penpal is a guy that don't have a lot of taboos, so it's nice that he can explain me what could be shocking to a japanese in what I have said, without been so shocked himself!

For example, I have learned that in japanese speech, silence is important too. In my country, we have the habit to explain, argue and explain again with lot of details. The japanese can be bored with that .

Too, you should take care when talking of japanese chiché. They are often false or half false and if you talk with someone that is bored to always listen about japanese women place in the society or that kind of thing, you can hurt without wanting it.

Talking of dead, some years ago, I have stopped to talk with a deaf japanese that was always complaining about the fact to be deaf. I realized later that being deaf in japan was so hard.It seem that when you don't fit in the box perfectly in japan, you are kind of excluded by the society. It's not like that in all countries.

Good luck. And don't worry, mistakes are somethign that we can learn from.
by Flip rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/19 09:04
Hehe, thanks Dave, that explains it. Maybe I should try to find out my own blood type then, in case someone asks. Or just take one from wikipedia that fits the best to me. ;)

I find that writing short emails are best. If you read and write or at least read Japanese, then write if you can in Japanese and some in English. This allows the pen pal to do the same. Do not look for quick responses since time schedules and such sometimes makes it difficult to write back. I you find that a pen pal suddenly disappears; wait a while and then you make the effort.

Ah yes, I write about half of the text in my emails in japanese, me penpals with which I keep in contact for more than a few weeks now do the same. I think this is a fine solution for both persons. :)
Of course it implies more or less that both persons are looking for a way to practice languages.
by Haf rate this post as useful

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