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You Asked: How can a Shy Girl Make New Friends?

Dear Sugar--
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

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

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.


Join The Conversation
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
this might sound cheesy, but don't they love all commercial things american in japan? what about wearing a football jersey from a major sports team or a shirt with an english saying on it "hi, i just moved here" to get the conversation started? what a fun adventure for you.
t0xxic t0xxic 10 years
I feel you! I sadly have no advice. I am just as shy and I moved across country 3 years ago and I just cant get over my anxiety. Good Luck and just put yourself out there dont be like me lol
Bonne Bonne 10 years
Also, in Japan work employees almost become your family. Talk to your boss and fellow employees to see what the social activities are...
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
Wow, I think you are very brave for starting a new job in a new country! Good for you! Now you have to use that same brave attitude to take some of DearSugar's advise and get out there and make contact with people! I like the idea of joining a club that centres around a favourite hobby. Trying to be social with your co-workers is also a good idea if they are around your age. Be patient with yourself, you're in a new environment and it's going to take time to meet people. Get involved with activities you enjoy and you are sure to meet people with like-interests.
KandiQTC KandiQTC 10 years
What I've gathered from studying Japanese (language, and culture) and by living there (sorry to say that I am not there now), is that Japan holds a lot of sterotypes. I am a caucasian 21 yr old female. People would definitely assume that I spoke English, and clearly, as you well know Laurie, that I would stand out more than you. Japan can be equally as harsh on other asia foreignors, but without an assumption that you speak English, they will be less inclinded to just randomly say "hello! My name is ____" to you. I would definitely recommend that you continue taking Japanese classes, and maybe you should open your own "English juku" or English cram school, or tutor people. :) Always will attract people in Japan. ...Roppongi (in/around Tokyo) is definitely a gathering spot for foreignors, due to a near by military base. It is a really fun area. Even if you're shy, the people there will understand exactly how you feel. Where are you in Japan? Maybe I could aid you more, if I know your surroundings. :)
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
Making friends is definitely like dating. You will have to put yourself out there. I would vote for using the internet to find groups that interest you. I'm sure there are networks for people who are foreigners living in Japan. This will take time, but I'm sure you'll find some friends soon. Good luck.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
Berlitz has centers around the world. I took classes with them and there was a vast age range. You would definitely meet people there!
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 10 years
How about taking a class after work at a college you'll meet lots of young people there. Always smile that makes you approachable and on the internet you can find lots of groups that meet your interests. How about your co-workers are any of them in your age group? You're bound to meet people with same interests you just have to put yourself out there don't stay home.
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