How To Make Friends In Japan As A Foreigner? – #DearShen Q&A 2

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Today I will answer these questions! Mainly about how to make friends in Japan as a foreigner. 🙂

I received these questions few months ago from a lovely American girl. Sorry for the late reply. TT I was planning to answer them with video form but I realized it is difficult for me at the moment.

Anyway, LETS DO IT!


1.  Do Japanese have a thing for white people? That is, do they think white guys and girls are automatically handsome simply because they have white features?

(American girl: It sounds silly, but I ask this because I see a lot of mixed singers in Japan, and I hear of ESL teachers that get scouted as models, or get complimented for their beauty constantly, even though they’re considered average in their home countries.)

I don’t want to admit it (250% Asian look Shen) but…it is TRUE!!! Few decades ago, foreigners with non-Asian look were said to be discriminated in Japan but in recent years, they are loved by Japanese people! The trigger of this phenomenon can be the coverage of non-Asian models in the mass media.

Sometimes I feel sad when I hangout with my international friends (Especially Caucasian) and Japanese friends because all the Japanese girls usually focus their conversation on my Caucasian friends. Don’t worry, I’m still very active in the conversation….as a interpreter. T.T

And YES! Being a mixed (ハーフ Ha-fu)  is a dream for many Japanese nowadays. It’s not difficult to hear opinions like “I want my child to be Ha-fu” from Japanese. Very sad, but yes….white guys have more chances to marry a Japanese. (WEEP)


2. Is K-pop popular in Japan?

K-pop has just started rising in Japan recently. BUT! When the world is encountering the K-pop fever, many Japanese would still ask you “Who is Big Bang?”

Why? Because Japan entertainment industry has strategy to promote their own J-pop within the country so that their people won’t be swallowed by K-pop wave!

AKB48 is definitely the most popular pop culture in Japan!


3. Have you been treated badly because you are of Chinese descent?

This is a good question because we all know Japan and China are having a bad relationship politically.

I don’t know other people’s experience (we can’t take a part for the whole right?), since you are asking #DearShen, I will tell you my experience. 🙂

I have not seen any discrimination simply because of my descent/nationality in Japan yet. Yes to be honest, the majority of Japanese tend to have a bad image of Chinese. Except some aggressive people who want to see war, most of the people wish to live peacefully with foreigners.

Just like any of us, we want to study, work, eat, sleep, date, marry, have babies, buy house, travel, etc. Nobody would want troubles right?

Speaking of China, Japanese people all know that they are having problems politically with each other, but they won’t judge people simply because you are a Chinese descent. Unless you act rudely in public.

Rather than the political concerns, Japanese tend to have worry about the food made in China. (who doesn’t? lol)


4. Do you have recommendations on how to make Japanese friends if I won’t be going to school there?

I will strongly suggest “Hippo Family” for you to start with. It is a community-based language club where adults and children learn multiple languages together simultaneously. There are many Hippo Family Clubs in almost every city in Japan.

They are a bunch of Japanese families who love foreign languages! Join them! They will arrange many many fun activities for you to make new friends! You can find my fun experiences with them in my previous blog posts in the “Life in Japan” category. ^^


5. Is it true that it’s hard to make friends in Japan? I heard that Japanese people tend to be distant (especially to foreigners) and that their definition of friendship doesn’t involve hanging out often.

Making Japanese friends can be difficult because:

– they don’t know what to talk with foreigners (or they call themselves “shy”)
–  their sense of humor is very different. (TV show humor is funny, but you hardly see it in real life.)
– you need to know their culture of “harmony” (Don’t give troubles to others!)

For me, the part I don’t like about making friends with Japanese is that, they are not spontaneous. They need to make appointment and arrange the 5W1H (who, where, when, what, why & how) carefully for every meeting beforehand.

It makes me feel every meeting with them is a meeting with purposes. If you are not used to this, you will feel tired to go out with Japanese.

Having said that, making friends is all about one thing: Sincerity. Just do kindness to people and try to understand others’ feeling, then you will be fine. ^^


Today’s Naruhodo!

Many people concern about making Japanese friends. Is my Japanese fluent enough? Will they discriminate foreigners?…

Just put yourself into the shoes and think, will you avoid making new friends simply because they can’t speak your language well? Will you treat new friends badly simply because he is a foreigner?

If your answer is NO, then don’t worry. Japanese is human also. Human feels human’s sincerity. Just treat people nicely, and people will treat you nice. 🙂

Shen Lim
A Chinese Malaysian, Blogger, Vlogger on YouTube, Tour Guide in Japan. He believes 1 day his videos can bring Japan and Malaysia together. マレーシア華人、ブロガー、YouTubeクリエイター、日本にいるツアーガイドです。いつか自分の動画は日本とマレーシアを繋げる架け橋になると信じています。 Read more ABOUT him.

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