I moved to Japan by myself for a job a couple of months ago and I am having a hard time making friends. I am a very shy person and I don't feel comfortable walking into bars or going to restaurants by myself (both of which have been recommended as good places to make friends). I also don't feel comfortable initiating conversations with strangers, especially since I can yet string together a complete sentence.
Because I'm Asian, I completely blend in and don't get the benefit of having random strangers start conversations with me like other foreigners in Japan do. I started going to Japanese lessons offered by a community centre in hopes of
meeting people but the volunteers there are all senior citizens. They are very nice but I want to meet people my age. The other students too are all much older. I am a single woman in my mid-twenties and I want to have some
fun! But I don't know where to start. Any suggestions? --Lonely Laurie
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Dear Lonely Laurie--
Moving to a new city, let alone a new country can be a difficult transition, so while you are shy, stepping out of your comfort zone and being a little more outgoing than usual will help move you in the right direction to creating a new life for yourself. Making friends can be equated to dating, you have to go through a screening process to see if you are compatible with potential new friends, a process that won't happen overnight.
Since you moved to Japan for work, have you gotten to know any of your co-workers? Making friends through your job is a sure fire way of finding people with similar interests. Venturing out and exploring/participating in community activities is another great way to meet people. Join a gym, or a local book club. Instead of reading or working at home, try spending some time in a coffee shop. Volunteering is a wonderful way to spend your time so perhaps look into something a little more age appropriate.
Are you opposed to meeting people on the internet? Even if you don't use it as a way to find a "love connection" you could use it as an easy way to make friends. Do you have a favorite boutique you visit often? Sparking conversation with store owners and sales associates is yet another great way to meet local people that could in time, introduce you to friends of friends.
Making connections with people won't happen overnight, so be patient and don't give up. Getting yourself out there and being approachable is the best thing you can do. Hopefully in time you will develop your own niche and Japan will feel like home! Good luck.