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Making friends/dating/ culture shock? 2005/10/16 21:45
hey all. i'm a 24 y/o blues guitarist-type male from Los Angeles attending Waseda Daigaku (for a 1-year stint and then a masters program).

I have some culture shock questions! Please help if you can, cos i'm lonely, scared, and shocked (haha)

1.) What was the most surprising/ hardest thing that you had to come to terms with in terms of culture shock? (Custom / tradition / expectation)

2.) How and where did you make friends, or find people to date?!?! I have found that you cannot make friends with people in public, only circles and connections! Can you NEVER get to know someone based on their clothes/looks/ taste in music (being at the same club) which usually causes attraction in friends/dates in Los Angeles culture!

So limiting it seems :(

My question comes because i have become very depressed here in Tokyo. I expected TOO much wrong stuff man! Just to come here, study, play in a blues band, make musician friends, etc.


People don't smile back on trains if you smile, and I NEVER knew of this! I'm a very friendly person, and i accept of course I accept that it's a cultural norm of Tokyo (and britain for that matter), and I wanna fit in, but i miss it.

2.)How do you make friends? I have found that you must be in a circle to make friends or date! I'm young, i wanna make friends and date people man. Wow, so surprsing. It's hard cos you CANNOT comment on someone's clothes/music taste if you see them in public.

I am a 4th year Japanese student, and i feel just lost cos my ideas were not from foreigners who lived here but Japanese Ryuugaksei in the States and ex-g/f (both from Tokyo) who probably thought it wasn't worth mentioning cos it was so normal!

My Japanese friends are surprised i didn't know such basic things in Tokyo.

The Fujiyama countryside was very friendly, and this is a non-issue there.

What can i do to make friends to learn japanese / play in bands, or nice gals to go for some drinks?

Please help me, cos I love it SO much here, and plan to live here, but am becoming so self-concious...


-a lonely sixtiessoul
by sixtiessoul  

... 2005/10/17 08:28
the train is a very depressin place in japan, people dreadging thier way to a worthless job, or people half asleep on thier way home because of lack of sleep. not the place to make contacts. i have found from friends that go to bars and either get aproached by people interested in having english conversation or they just go up to them. BUT after they exchange phone number or emails it still doesnt go very far. you will find with most japanese people that it is the norm to not reply to emails or calls from new or even regular friends (like between 1 week and 1 month for a reply). only the best and closest friends get special attention. this part of a friendship can get anoying for gajin because they are used to getting responces at least on the same day. if you can get other this bit, then your getting along nice. to make new friends i would maybe join a club. if you join a club that you are interested in, then the odds are youll meet some people with the same interest as you and that is a good start to making good friends. but if you want to make a large group of friends quick, why not just hang out with other gaijin? you will find that there are hundreds of other gaijin in the same boat as you and would kill to have a regular person to hang out with. they miss home and english contact. also be prepared to loose friends in an instant. take for example, if you have worked a job for the last six months and then quit... you will be forgoten pretty quick. this sort of behaviour isnt just towards gaijin in japan, it goes for japanese people themselves as well. so dont get yourself down because you different, the fact is your being treated the same as most other people in japan
by ... rate this post as useful

. 2005/10/17 09:14
le don't smile back on trains if you smile, and I NEVER knew of this! I'm a very friendly person, and i accept of course I accept that it's a cultural norm of Tokyo (and britain for that matter), and I wanna fit in, but i miss it.

From someone who has ridden the rails in may different countries this is not a Japanese thing.
In General (and Im not just talking about Japan).
It depends on what train you're on, what time of day a whole lot of factors play in.

A lot of people just keep to themselfs, I'm not Japanese but I've said Ohayo bordings trains with a smile before. In almost all countries I've been too, the most grumpy people are poeple who are waking up and having to commute distances to work, and late at night when they have to commute long distances back home. I've experience that in every single nation long before I traveled to Japan on my train journies and for me Japan was no different than riding the early morning commute in Maryland.
by railfan rate this post as useful

. 2005/10/17 09:30
Sorry I can't help much on making friends, if you have a hobby (for example I like trains, I found out there is a very large group of train buffs like myself here in Japan, and thats how I made some of my friends in Japan).

If you have a hobby, I guess it being Guitars and jazz, I would find activities including those items and see how it goes from there.
by railfan rate this post as useful

comfort in groups 2005/10/17 09:46
When I was in Japan, all kinds of people spoke to us--even trains, especially outside of Tokyo. Maybe people are too preoccupied in busy Tokyo.

Older/elderly people and school kids were the most responsive to me--are you only wanting to talk to young women?

Even in coffee shops, I smiled and said "ohayo gozaimasu" with a little nod. The groups of older women whispered and giggled among themselves but returned a smile. I admit being female might be a reason, too.

I agree with the previous poster, find something you like to do and join a club or group. Since you're a musician, maybe join a taiko class? It's good excersise and you'll meet people. You'll be less threatening than a solitary, gaijin male.

Attend campus social events, join a study group-you get the idea. Japanese youth are probably more comfortable going on group outings rather than single dates.

Good luck and hope you meet some nice people.
by nanshi rate this post as useful

train 2005/10/17 09:56
oh you say Ohayo on entering a train??? hehehe that would wierd me out a little. its not a common thing for us japanese people. And as a japanese women i for one would not aproach someone that does that. Be yourself. I like to talk to english people so i can practice my english. but i dont like to talk to otaku or hentai
by Minako rate this post as useful

. 2005/10/17 10:02
To clearify, I don't say it the moment I enter or do I say it all the time. it depends on the moment and the situation as I enter, other times I don't say a thing, it depends on the situation. Entering elevators in the morning I've had Japanese people say Ohayo/Goodmorning to me.
by railfan rate this post as useful

just chill ... 2005/10/17 10:08
Just re-read your post. US culture places strong emphasis on being an individual (my problem was the opposite of yours). Many non-western cultures (even in the US) place greater importance on relationships. Thus, you need to make "connections" and be part of "circles" as you mentioned. Relax, decompress, practice patience and become part of the "connections and circles". Eventually, you'll feel "at home".
by nanshi rate this post as useful

elevator 2005/10/17 10:10
for elevators i think it is more polite to say things. often i just say sumimasen. i say it to appoligise for making someone wait the elevator for me, or if i am exiting the elevator and someone is waiting to get in. but i dont say it to english people, because i think it must sound strange to them. my english friend asked me why japanese people are always saying sorry. hahaha i think it is funny. but i think it is strange when a stranger talks to me when they do not know me. more strange when they are english person.
by Minako rate this post as useful

Wanted to be a hippy in LA 2005/10/17 15:46
Hi there!

I'm a Japanese local but I know how you feel, because I spent my childhood days in Pasadena during 69-73 when saying hi to a stranger was a must there. Yes, coming back home was a culture shock, but I did make loads of band friends while I was a roku-daigaku student, so I hope I can help you.

LA is one of the rare cities in the world where everyone smiles at you. So this is something you plainly have to get used to, and let's just skip that part.

Now, how did I make friends in college, AS A BAND PERSON? You don't make band friends through go-kon or circles. You go to gigs. It might take a while to know your favorite local band, but find one. Asking people (with guitars) in your campus is one way to find out.

Once you find your favorite band, go to their gigs and festivals. Soon you'll notice that the same fans often come to a lot of the shows. Fortunately, you're a foreign guitarist who may stand out in the crowd. If you play yourself, talk to the band members. They'd usually be happy to have a guitarist friend from LA.

And talk to GUYS first! If you only talk to the girls, they'll think that you're just there for sex. Get to know the guys, and let them know you're a safe and honest guy yourself, and the girls will automatically come to you (especially if you play the guitar).

Have you been to Koenji on the JR Chuo Line? There's a lot of rock population there too.

Anyway, Tokyo is not particularly an unfriendly city. In fact, I think it's one of the most LA guitar-friendly cities in Japan, even though the procedures on making friends may differ.
by Uco rate this post as useful

extra info 2005/10/17 15:51
Jirokichi is the club you'd want to go if you're a blues guitarist.
by Uco rate this post as useful

thanks Uco 2005/10/18 00:39
I'm glad you jumped in with good practical advice on finding musician friends.

We can always count on you (^_^).
by nanshi rate this post as useful

koenji 2005/10/18 11:08
http://www.frangipani.info/blog/ try this post she has just done a story with photoes on koenji and why not contact,she would love to here from you music contacts is her game say unclebob give you the site
by badbob rate this post as useful

nowwon 2005/10/18 12:51
i think the solution is to have more english speaking friends. they are going to have the same attitude as you and if you try to talk to them im sure they would be willing to spark up a conversation. on the plus side, they could be well interested in dating someone that is from thier country as after thier stay in japan is over then you could always be together when you both eventualy return home. or is are you looking for a japanese date in perticular?
by Living Reports rate this post as useful

bowwob 2005/10/18 12:52
by english speaking, i mean gaijin
by Living Reports rate this post as useful

bad friendship... 2005/10/30 17:35
dear "..."

well, I didnft mean meeting people on the train exactly, I meant in public, generally, off of Waseda camups. Although i met some Ska band kids on the train 2 nights ago...very friendly, and rare! Man what you wrote about gthis part of not receiving email can be extremely annoying for Gaijinh to be really the case. If I give out my number, Ifm definitely interested in hanging out with the person, or I expect them to be asking out of kindness / situation. BUT if they DID email me, Ifd DEFINITELY send a reply, even if I didnft want it to go very farcare people really so busy? Your other point about glosing friends very easilyh is completely true too. I treat friends like brothers and sisters. I have 10-20 good friends in LA that I hug when I see them (not counting musicians/contacts). This casual-ness of friendship is totally hard to deal with. To me, itfs rather bulls*** and undermines the idea of friendship. I donft expect the world of people, but I expect people to have an interest if theyfre gonna give their phone number/email to me. Otherwise Ifd rather there be HONESTY, like gSorry I hate to be a jerk, but I donft think we have very much in common.h Rarely happens in the states either, butchey itfs justcwell honest. Also, I tried to join a circle on Waseda Campus, (WIC international club), but the president was very cocky kept referring to it as gHIS clubh, and had his lieutenant explain why it would be VERY hard to accept a Gaikokujin because Ifd be treated as an Ichinensei instead of being 25cblah blah blahcthatfs fine, I donft care, yfknow? Ifm not going to be devastated, I just wanna make friends mate. The reason I donft wanna hang out with other Gaikokujin, is that I wonft learn anything, and eventually, theyfre going to go home, and I am not. I am looking into the blues group of the other person who posted on here, but itfs all in KANJI!~~~~~
by sixtiessoul rate this post as useful

to railfan... 2005/10/30 17:42
Dear Railfan,

Yeah I understand, Ifve made friends with a French guy who said the same thing, and also my right and proper Brittish Prof. said gYoufre oh-so-americanh when I mentioned that very thing. Itfs variable yeah, like I met a ska group who were laughing cos I had a guitar, and were very nice to me, and gave me their Meishi. Very cool. On the other hand, I almost came to blows with a guy who pushed me 2-3 feet as he got off the train, and I was getting on, when I was not in his way at allc(he was drunk methinks), and all I could do was scream him out with F*** profanities, and get evil looks from all the other train-riders. He was completely in the wrong but I could just see the headlines gStand-Up citizen of Fujimi-city defenselessly attacked by insane American youth, we must close down all the bases at Yokohama as SOON as possible!!!!h LOL. Youfve actually said gOhayouuh before? LOL. Did they look at you like you were absolutely insane? I think thatfs awesome. :D I was more talking though on gHow the hell do you make FRIENDS here?!h sort of situation. Haha. THX.
by sixtiessoul rate this post as useful

strength in numbers / dating 2005/10/30 17:53
Hey Nanshic

So people spoke to you especially outside of Tokyo huh? Can I ask what type of group and age yours was? Girls/ Guys / Mixed / How old? Being female I think is a big reason, cos there is not fear / intention of sex/romance, as women are seen harmless here. Sorry not being sexist, just heard it from gal-friends.

Usually Elderly people in Tokyo give me dirty looks / or looks of fear if itfs late at night and wefre walking near each other alone. Kids usually point and say gMite, mite, gaijin da!h (Look therefs a foreigner!). At an Onsen OUTSIDE OF TOKYO in Fujiyama-shi, a gentleman started talking to me about politics in the states, and kept asking gIs condolezza rice single??h to which I finally replied in Japanese gWhy are you interested?h and they all laughed very down-to-earth. Outside a kid was staring at me, and said gWhy are you here foreigner?h and I said gIfm a student here. Is this your first time seeing a non-japanese person?h in perfect Japanese and he was shocked!!!!!!! gHUH?!h and smiled at me.

I need to find numbers yeah, but I donft know how to join a club at school. Itfs all in Japanese, and they wonft teach you ANYTHING about how to enter a circle. Also 60% of the time you hafta have a Japanese person sponser (unless youfre REALLY talented at somethingc), and Ifm proper proficient in guitar as Ifm a professionalcbutc.

As far as women go, of COURSE I would like to meet girls. I donft see what the giant problem with that is? I think it goes back very far to Madama Butterfly social problems and Hollywood, but yeah dude, I wanna date a lovely girl, and hopefully get married, have kids, thatfs NORMAL man. But if you canft even meet GUY friends, itfs like what luck do I have of doing that man? Hahaha. Ifve no idea where to go to meet cool blues/rock loving gals (non-groupie styleci.e. not dating you just cos youfre a gaikokujin) anf ollah that, Ifm 24 man! Haha.

Cheers, thx for your reply!
by sixtiessoul rate this post as useful

"because they were english" 2005/10/30 17:58

you wrote more strange when they are english person. ...

can i ask WHY that is? I mean if someone who is japanese talks to you in japanese why is that more comfortable? I don't understand that at all? Is that subconcious? Is that also very common among people you know? that sounds very hard. :(
by sixtiessoul rate this post as useful

guitar / LA / love 2005/10/30 18:08

What you wrote really helped a lot. I didnft know LA was a very rare city, or that someone else had the same experience as me. Yeah I didnft think making friends in a band circle would be very interesting, cos having a headcutter-session (whofs the BEST?!) is very dull.

Like a hierarchy of talent or whatevercthatfs such a waste creatively innit?

My favourite Japanese band? See Ifm not sure where to go to play. My host brother was helping me a little finding places to play and the like in Ikebukero, and Free-play gigscanything to not have to PAY-TO-PLAY. Haha. But yeah, Ifm a total hippy if you didnft guess as well. ;)

You think theyfd want a guitarist friend from LA? Is that because of connections or what? I wanna meet some Japanese blues players who love Derek and the Dominoes and Led Zeppelin mate. Sure.

Like I said to Nanshii, of course I wanna meet gals. Ifm 24, and Ifm looking for gthe oneh girl, cos thatfs how I am. Ifm not there for sex, but if you have this tiny scope, it gets really sad and dullci.e. I donft have this problem in LA. LOL. If you offer to buy a girl a drink and be chivalrous and cool, chances are youfll become friends, and maybe romance latercjust how it works.

But I will go and try to do live or open mic gigs and see if I can make some guitar guy/girl friends and maybe a future wife will come up to me one day. Hahac

I have not ridden Koenji but I have done the JR Chuo line. Where exactly is the rock population there? How? Where? What places? Hehe.

I understand now that Tokyo is an LA-guitar-friendly city, but could you maybe teach me WHERE to go to meet the friendly kids?

Ifd really appreciate it mate.

by sixtiessoul rate this post as useful

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