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Getting to know people. Courses/classes? 2008/4/24 05:36
Hi! I have ordered a 3 week trip to Tokyo. I do this to get away from my environment, and to work on my private project.

My question is this: Will I feel very alone in Japan? Is there a way to meet people other than bars? Bars are good, but I also want to meet people who are sober.

So far I have found a short-term japanese course (I speak a little already), which is good. I know already that in a language class, people will get to know each other pretty well. I'm open for everything; cooking classes, martial arts (I like MMA, grappling and tai ji), I train weights.

Does anyone have a recommendation? Some situation which doesn't take too much time, and is great for meeting people in Tokyo or Japan in general?

I just need a diversion from my work from time to time, or I think I will go crazy. :)

by gustav  

Cultural centers 2008/4/24 12:16
There are cultural centers that offer different kinds of classes. Maybe you can take a couple. The prices are reasonable, and some are even free. I took some free Japanese classes there.
by Irasahi rate this post as useful

According to my experiences 2008/4/24 17:40
The sober version of bars, I think, is parks and hotel lobbies.
by Uco rate this post as useful

hmmm 2008/4/24 19:07
thanks, I will look at the cultural centres, sounds good! The question is if "normal japanese people" will be there.

The reason why I feel a "formal setting" is needed when not sober, is that most japanese people I have known so far, seem to draw the line pretty clearly between knowing and not knowing someone.

So I can't imagine (based on my own experience) that I can just get to talk to a japanese person in a park etc. without a certain amount of stress/embarrassment behind the scenes.

Am I wrong? :x
by gustav rate this post as useful

Based on my experiences.. 2008/4/24 19:36
Ummm, I would say in parks, particularly "neighborhood" kind of parks, regulars would greet and talk with each other - like those walking their dogs every morning, joggers, or people who do exercise in the park, etc. But it would be less likely that people talk to you if you are, for example, reading a book seated on a park bench, UNLESS it's someone who are interested to talk to non-Japanese to practice English or something like that.

For the same reason, hotel lobbies might be a bit tricky too - meaning, people don't really want to look like they are there to pick up people. And hotel lobbies are where people with appointments "meet up," not where you get to talk to strangers...
by AK (Japansese) rate this post as useful

Fitness centers 2008/4/24 23:09
There are also sport centers where you can exercise, swim, weight train, etc. I imagine that is a good place to meet up with people.
by Madmax rate this post as useful

exchange lounge? 2008/4/24 23:32
Perhaps one of the best options for you may be visiting an International Exchange Lounge. There is at least one in each of the 23 wards of Tokyo. If you have trouble finding them, simply ask someone how you can contact the ward office (kuyakusho), and the ward office can lead you the way.

International Exchange Lounges organize occasional gatherings and classes that you can join with sudden notice. Also, the people participating would be mostly locals who are eager to communicate with foreign visitors/residents, be it in English or Japanese. I used to be an organizer in Yokohama and saw many participating visitors make long time friends.

Actually, hotel lobbies in Japan (where I am the local) and parks in Europe (where I am the foreigner) has been the two places where foreign strangers have come up to talk to me the most. I guess those are the two places I kill time, parks being just to relax and lobbies being a place to meet a friend. While I sit having nothing to do, someone sitting near me would talk to me. We have a chat, my friend comes along or my time is up, and we say good-bye. I also think that where time is limited, it's easier to feel safe when talking to strangers. For the same reason, I've been approached at Hachiko Square of Shibuya and Picadilly Circus of London when I was younger.

Not many Japanese people may come up to you for a long conversation, but if you go up to them speaking their language, many might not have a reason to refuse. Try it.
by Uco rate this post as useful

well.. 2008/4/25 00:34
if you are a white person, if you take a trip anywhere outside of the city, everywhere you go will be an opportunity to meet people.

i'm working at a hotel way out in the sticks in northern japan and i am bombarded with attention from visitors. i quite like it because everyone is friendly, my japanese has improved significantly and i've only been here a month. i've been invited to drink for free, had long chats with japanese people who've lived all over the world, and even met a japanese person who used to live about 1 block away from where i was living before i came here, she rode the same bus to work as me at one point.

if you are black or any other race you may not get people approaching you as much in rural areas, but in the cities people will still occasionally come up to you depending on where you are.

try to make yourself approachable in any case, it's not all that cool to be "nampa-ing" people unless you can speak proper japanese, it's better to let them come to you if possible.

just my opinion though!
by winterwolf rate this post as useful

getting to know you 2008/4/25 05:08
I am a Caucasian and do not speak Japanese--I only know words, not sentences--but have been approached by Japanese of various ages for small talk in English,French and my minimal Japanese. It could be that my camera, giving me away as a tourist, is also an ice breaker. The funniest time was when a young Japanese woman asked ME for directions, just outside Kyoto, as she was lost. So was I but at least I knew roughly the direction back to the Fushimi Inari JR station.
by Monkey see rate this post as useful

Nice 2008/4/25 05:17
Some great responses to this thread so far. I will look at the International Exchange Lounges in particular, sounds like a good kind of "melting pot" place.

Going outside the city also sounds like a great idea, especially to work on my japanese.

But Madmax, you mention exercise centres? This sounds great too, not only for the people, but also for the exercise, which I will need. :D

Are there any centres in particular to be recommended? Does not have to be fancy, I need no more than basic dumbbells and a bench to be honest.
by gustav rate this post as useful

Konami 2008/4/25 07:53
Konami Sports Center is one of the larger and nicer ones. It is much like the ones you see in the USA with glass windows and people running on exercise machines inside.
by Madmax rate this post as useful

Link with a list 2008/4/25 08:25
Thanks Madmax! helped me find a handy list in english of fitness/sports centres in Tokyo:


The list is divided into districts.
by gustav rate this post as useful

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