Making Friends through Japan’s Line App

Japan’s Line. I finally made the leap over last year. I told you Mixi was great. Then I said move to Facebook for Japanese friends. But now it really is all about Line. As Japanese Facebook’s swift ascent and decline happened within a period of a few years, Line is victorious. And you’ve gotta keep up.

There are 300 million users worldwide. And 50 million in Japan. That’s 40% of Japan’s population. And since something like 20-25% of Japan’s population is over 65 years old and I’m assuming are not using Line, if you meet a non-senior citizen, there is a high probability that they will be using Line.

I love Line. What does it have?

Timeline – Feed
Phone calls
Friend request system
And more (do I sound like a bad commercial?)

None of this is original. Other apps do all of the above. But it molds it together into such a beautiful Japanese manner. Line is 和(わ). Line is わびさび (Wabi Sabi).

Now there are a lot of reasons to use Line. But I want to focus on the ones that made a difference to me, who was both a loyal Facebook and Mixi user.

4. Free phone calls to other members

This replaced Skype for me and became a must have travel app.

3. Messaging requires only an internet connection

This saves the trouble with the standard SMS while traveling. It also became the easiest place to communicate with Japanese friends.

2. Cute message stamps are highly addictive

Line Stamp 3

This is something I never thought would be a draw for me.

And yet I’m addicted to these ridiculous stamps. There are dozens of free stamp packs where you can express everything with wild and crazy characters. You can have full conversations without ever requiring text.

Line Stamp 4

And then there are a large range of themed packs for $1.99 each.

Line Stamp 5

Want to be able to express yourself using Dragon Ball characters? I know I did. And so I bought it. And you might too.

Line Stamp 6

You may be laughing at me now, but just try it. Then we can laugh together, as I send you a silly stamp.

1. Currently one of the best ways to connect with Japanese people

If you want to connect better with Japanese people, this is where to do it. If everyone’s using it, and you’re not, where does that leave you? Exactly.

The above reasons are personal to me, and I don’t make full use of the app, so I’d be interested in hearing why you guys like Line. Maybe you can show some of the cool features of Line that I haven’t yet made use of.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Making Friends through Japan’s Line App — 39 Comments

  1. You can also ‘follow’ companies and other feeds on LINE, a bit like Twitter. I follow this one account that sends a short English lesson everyday. I’m British, so why do I do this? Well about 90% of the content is in 日本語. And the little bit of English provides some useful context. So it’s a great way to study Japanese!

    • Very interesting. I’m going to have to try this. Any other worthwhile companies to follow you recommend?

      • To be honest I haven’t tried following others yet, but should probably give it a go as it’s a good way to get continuous exposure. The ‘English learning’ account I follow is called “LINE毎日英会話”.

      • There are pop bands and 芸能人 you can follow, but in my experience most of the content is just their upcoming appearances or releases. I tried following a few companies but I ended up blocking them all. It was just a seeming continuous stream of spam that didn’t actually interest me.

  2. I’ve been living in Japan about 50 minutes south of Tokyo for 7 months now. I’ll say this, line is a must have app. People don’t ask what your phone number is any more it’s always what’s your line. My wife uses it to talk to family back in America for free and it works way better than skype.

    Plus it comes in japanese, icing on the cake for me.

    • Yeah it is such a major part of the culture. Even on TV shows it is a given that everyone is using Line. It used to be “Let’s exchange info through 赤外線 Infrared.” Now it’s let’s ふるふる which is the shaking action to get the phones to exchange info.

  3. You can also form line groups and invite multiple people to chat conversations. Groups persist and have completely replaced the old mailing lists for clubs, circles, and just about any group of friends. Chat conversations is great for coordinating meet ups and keeping track of larger groups as they split up and rejoin through out the night.

    Socially I feel like not having LINE is equivalent to not having a cell phone at all. Compared to the easy of tapping out dozens of LINE messages to different people, which are all sent extremely quickly in the background, using normal phone mail seems ancient and slow.

    One small hint, you can turn off the message text when you get notifications so that your friends can’t phone bomb you with inappropriate stamps at inappropriate times.

  4. Is there any way to change the language in the app? I can’t find any “settings” or anything. Obviously I’d like to change it to Japanese. Tried installing it through the Japanese version of google play but that didn’t seem to help.

    • Going along with what juca said, if your phone is in Japanese, I think the app is in Japanese. Not sure if there is a way to have your phone in English and the App in Japanese, but maybe somebody knows? If not, maybe this is the time to switch your phone to Japanese!

    • Even with a Japanese VPN, I can’t seem to install it in Japanese. I’ve managed to download Hulu’s Japanese app and NHK Radio, but cannot find Line in Japanese.

      I personally do not like Line’s design, at all. It’s not cute, to me. Then, I can’t even change the language settings to Japanese (-_-)

  5. “I’m not an emoticon person, I’m a guy, and I don’t need pictures to express myself.”

    I hope this was sarcasm. No need to perpetuate that awful gender stereotype…

  6. FYI Line is owned by Korean company Naver which is kinda funny since in Korea everyone uses KakaoTalk, Granted, the Japanese branch is the one that released it first and promoted it.

    I have both on my phone since I talk to both Korean & Japanese friends.

  7. Hey! I recently(just now) installed line.. Only to learn japanese. Have no clue how to get people who speak japanese. Can any of you add me. I would like to have casual day to day talk in japanese.

  8. Looking back on this article since I noticed it in the “random article” box:

    “if you meet a non-senior citizen, there is a high probability that they will be using Line…”

    …Unless that person happens to be my husband, who vehemently hates Line, ha.

    It’s something to note that Line doesn’t work on all devices. We cannot sign up for Line on our smartphones. For some reason Line decided if you’re on a cell phone, you have to authenticate Line with your cell phone number. It can’t be done via Facebook like before. And our IP cell phone numbers don’t work with Line.

    Like my husband, I’m not so fond of Line anyways, but it is a big deal for some people who actually want to use Line and have an IP cell phone at the same time. Line is a bit restrictive in that way.

    At least if a Japanese person were to ask me to join Line, I cannot be convinced into installing an app I don’t want, because it’s impossible to use it anyways.

    • I feel a need to update this.

      Line’s authenticate via Facebook is working again, so I made a dummy FB account (since I don’t use FB), and got a Line account and am currently loving it^^ My husband is using it too.

      I used to hate Line, because of how much storage it took up, how hard it is to sign up, and the design, but now I’m realizing I like it much better than the other IMing apps out there. And with one chat background change, I don’t hate the design so much anymore.

      (There’s a lite ver. of thr app, but I think it’s region blocked in Japan.)

        • Oh! Wow! I guess they just cut down on features to make it more appealing anD less confusing for people used to simpler messengers?

          • Hmm, “素早く容易にインストール可能”, it seems the appeal is it’s faster than the original Line to download.

  9. “これなら回線が遅い環境や、2G回線でも問題なくインストールできそうです。”

    Oh! So it’s so people can download Line on a slow connection or 2g. Not about the storage size itself.

  10. You can use LINE in Japanese on an English IOS, but first have to download the Japanese version. It’s easy. No need to download anything extra or change the iPhone’s language settings.

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