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How to Make Japanese Friends Online: 6 Steps to Lasting Connections

There are many resources available online to help you learn Japanese.

But one of the best ways to learn and practice your language skills is by talking to a native speaker.

Whether you’re looking for a language exchange partner, a penpal or just an online friend who shares your interests, you’re in the right place.

Read on for six steps to making Japanese friends online so you can learn the language and form some long-lasting friendships!

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1. Seek out people with similar interests. 

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Finding people with something in common with you will lead to a deeper and longer-lasting relationship than one in which you’re just using each other for something (like learning a language).

What do you enjoy? What are your hobbies? The internet allows you to find a community for basically anything.

2. Use a language exchange website or app. 

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To meet native Japanese speakers who are interested in doing a language exchange or making new friends, here are some options:

  • Some popular language exchange apps include HelloTalk, Tandem and HiNative.
  • You can try the Langmate app, which has the tagline “Make Japanese Friends” and aims to connect people from around the world with people in Japan to chat, learn new languages and discover different cultures.
  • Interpals is another popular platform with over 6 million users. It aims to help people make new friends, practice languages with native speakers and meet travelers.

You can also use an online platform like italki to find a private Japanese tutor. If you choose someone in your age range with some shared interests, your tutoring sessions will likely feel more like chatting with a friend than formal lessons. 

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3. Be clear about what you’re looking for. 

People join language exchange platforms for a variety of reasons, including a genuine interest in learning a language, to make new friends and even for dating. Be specific about what you want and you’re more likely to get it.

Follow these steps to maximize your success:

1. Pick a simple, clear picture that shows your face. No photo or an unclear one raises suspicions. 

2. Briefly introduce yourself. This is your first chance to show off a bit of your personality. It doesn’t have to be long, but you should give people looking at your profile an idea of who you are and what you’re interested in.

3. Clearly state your expectations. How and when do you want to exchange? For example, over Skype on Tuesdays between 7 and 9PM Japanese time or by messaging on the weekends.

4. Clearly state what you can offer to an exchange partner. For example, if you have experience teaching English or tutoring, include that!

Here are some more suggestions for making the most of your language exchange experience.

4. Get involved with the online community. 

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No matter where you end up going, as the adage states, showing up is half the battle. In his book, “The Like Switch,” a former FBI agent breaks down the behavioral psychology behind befriending strangers.

The first step is proximity or simply being visible to each other. We can’t befriend people who we don’t know exist. In fact, the process is so consistent that he offers a formula:

proximity + frequency + duration + intensity/intimacy = connection

So get involved and create the opportunity for people to approach you. Share some moments if you’re on HelloTalk or go out and answer some questions if you’re on HiNative. Respond to a post on Reddit or retweet your idol on Twitter.

Wherever you are and whatever medium you use, your goal is to get your foot in the door and find (or be found by) like-minded people.

5. Learn how to approach and converse with new people. 

Making friends online or in person involves approaching new people. Simply saying “hello” is bland and easy to ignore, and introductory conversations quickly become boring and mechanical when they’re repeated too often.

To connect with someone, you need to stand out in some way so that your potential friends have something engaging to respond to. If you aren’t a super outgoing person by nature, it’s worth learning how to make small talk so that you can make a good first impression.

The goal of your introductory messages should be to show your partner that you’re interested in some unique part of their personality, not because they happen to speak Japanese and you want to practice. 

6. Be open-minded, curious and respectful.

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When you’re trying to make Japanese friends online, it’s important to see them as a whole person rather than just a means to learn the language or prepare for a trip to Japan. Consider what you’re offering them in the friendship, and always be respectful and considerate. 

Try to ask them questions and remain open-minded and curious, rather than making assumptions or believing the stereotypes and generalizations you may have heard about Japanese people. Like any nationality, Japanese people are diverse with different interests, aspirations and personalities. 

They’ll probably be excited about the opportunity to practice their English skills with a native skill or connect with someone from across the globe over a shared interest. If they’re not interested in a friendship, kindly let them go on their way and continue looking for the right match. 

FAQs About Making Japanese Friends Online

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Where can I find Japanese friends online?

You can find Japanese friends online through language exchange apps, social media platforms and community forums like Reddit. You can also use free websites like Conversation Exchange or My Language Exchange.

What apps can I use to make friends with Japanese people?

You can use apps like HelloTalkTandemHiNative, Lingbe, TandemLangmate or Interpals to make friends with Japanese people. If you’re looking for a Japanese penpal, you can try Slowly or Shimagurashi (for iOS or Android). 

What chatting app do Japanese people use?

LINE is the most widely used messaging app in Japan with over 95 million Japanese users. It also offers voice/video calls, animated stickers, gaming and more. Other popular apps used for chatting in Japan include Zingr, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Almost 130 million people live in Japan, so there’s bound to be someone out there who you’ll click with.

It might be a bit awkward to intentionally look for friends at first, and you might not have had to put yourself out there in a long time.

But if you follow these suggestions and get involved in the right places, you’re bound to connect with people and make many Japanese friends online!

And One More Thing...

If you love learning Japanese with authentic materials, then I should also tell you more about FluentU.

FluentU naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You'll learn real Japanese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a broad range of contemporary videos as you'll see below:

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FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.

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All definitions have multiple examples, and they're written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

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And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.

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The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You'll have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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