Making Japanese Friends On Facebook

Mixi, Mixi, Mixi . . . You were once a dear friend. But your exclusiveness has finally gotten to me and it is hard to continually recommend you to Japanese learners. Don’t have a Japanese cell phone e-mail address? That whole .edu address signup thing not working for you? Can’t work your way through the complex Japanese interface that seems to constantly change? If only there was a social networking site that had all the features of Mixi, but none of its downsides.

I believe the reason Mixi continues with it’s “meant only for the Japanese market” is less because of an anti-outsider stance, but more because of its heavy concern over safety. By forcing Japanese cell phone registration,  you have to provide your real identity, you are more easily tracked down if you do anything wrong, and this should result in decreases in incidences of stalkery/violence/crime. This is part of the reason why Mixi has always been a “don’t show any real pictures of yourself or provide any personal information in your profile.”

The slow move to Facebook

The Japanese story of arrival to Facebook is a bit interesting. Japanese people who were accustomed to the protectiveness of Mixi were a bit hesitant to sign on to Facebook when it finally reached Japan with a Japanese version (around 2008~2009?) Japan is often slow on using the rest of the world’s latest gadgets (see also Twitter and Smartphones), but they do come around. After a year or so of slow growth, Japanese people finally got what Facebook was about and have been using it now in full force for the past few years. Now is the perfect time to get on board and start making this a major study tool of yours.

The concept behind Mixi transfers to Facebook

The approach to Facebook to make Japanese friends and study Japanese is the same as what I’ve talked about with Mixi. Seek out Japanese people who want to talk and make friends with foreigners, but aren’t really that interested in learning English. Remember, you don’t want language exchange partners, you want Japanese friends.

Etiquette

Now I’m no expert on Facebook manners, but there are some basic principles people usually abide to. The number one manner is probably “don’t randomly send out friend requests to people you don’t know.” Then again, maybe this no longer applies, and I’m recalling etiquette from when I first started using Facebook in college? Either way, you are here to make Japanese friends and use Japanese. This is different, and you can let your manners slide a bit.

The Method

Let’s break this into 6 simple steps:

1. Find Facebook Fan Pages with a lot of Japanese members in them. Like them. Don’t know where to start? In the search box, try typing in some Japanese keywords that match your interests.

Examples:

Like funny pictures? Type in 面白い (interesting) and you get https://www.facebook.com/omoshirotoukou
Like Dragon Ball? Type in ドラゴンボール and you get https://www.facebook.com/ryuball

Don’t know where to start? How about the Japanese Level Up Facebook Page? While this was created a while ago, I never actually did anything with it. However, I’m finally turning it into what a Facebook Page should be, full of fun and exciting material about Japan and Japanese that should be very engaging to anyone who uses JALUP. There are many native Japanese users who have already joined and I am aggressively getting more. Also, I plan on being very active with the users, so feel free to consider this the closest thing to a forum on JALUP.

2. Start looking at some of the posts and comments by Japanese people on the fan page. Be generous with the like button. Leave messages in addition to the “likes.” Even just a few words is fine. People appreciate it that much more when you actually respond to what they say, rather than just give a lazy thumbs up. And in case this isn’t obvious, make sure your messages are in Japanese!

3. After liking and messaging on peoples’ posts, send them a friend request, and make sure to include a message in Japanese. Here is a good sample of what it should look like, but personalize it however you want.  And try to include something about the Fanpage you found them on. Also, be generous with cute emoticons.

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初めまして!

(Your Name) です。(Fanpage name)のファンページから来ました。突然メッセージをしてすみません。私は日本が大好きで (Japanese person’s name)さんはとても面白そうな方ですのでメッセージをしました。もし良かったら友達になって頂けませんか。

返事を待っています!宜しくお願いします!^_^

How it roughly translates into English

Nice to meet you!

I’m (Your Name). I came from the fanpage (Fanpage name). I’m sorry if this message is kind of sudden. I love Japan and you look like a very interesting person, so I decided to message you. If it’s okay, will you become my friend?

I’m looking forward to your reply! ^_^
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I’m aware of how ridiculously corny this sounds, but it is similar to the messages I used to constantly receive on Mixi, and it works.

4. Repeat step 3 several times. Don’t go too overboard, as the point is to try to develop friendships with these people, not collect friends like Pokemon. It is hard to keep up with friendships when numbers grow too high. Of course don’t expect every friendship to work out. It takes time to find people who you can really connect with.

5. Message your new friends. Comment on their feeds. Try to get to know their other Japanese friends. Do all the Facebooky things you do normally.

6. Have fun. While you are going in with a strong purpose of learning Japanese, you may develop some amazing and lifelong friendships. And eventually you may even find people who live near you and you can actually hang out with in person.

Don’t wait too long. The tides are changing.

Now I’m sure Facebook as a whole will be around for a long time (though who really knows for how long). However, Japanese are fickle when it comes to changing technologies and trends, and while they are sometimes slow to jump onto the next new thing, they are very quick at abandoning them.

Japanese are already starting to move onto the new Japan-created mobile social network Line. Its user base is growing rapidly from it’s launch date on June of 2011. I don’t know the numbers, but I have a feeling that a lot of users are already leaving Facebook usage for Line usage (though there are some differences in what Line actually does, which may eventually change to catch more Facebook users).

I’ll eventually write up an article on Line to keep up with the latest tools.

More Facebook Tactics?

How have you used Facebook to make Japanese friends and study Japanese? What are some of your best methods? Any Facebook Pages you recommend?

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Note: Please do not use the comments section of this post to give out your personal info and ask to meet Japanese people. All comments related to this will be deleted. If you want someone to study with, register here. And if you want to find Japanese people to become friends with, contact people directly through Facebook.



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Adam

Adam

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

Comments

Making Japanese Friends On Facebook — 12 Comments

  1. Japanese have definitely jumped from Mixi to Facebook. My Mixi newsfeed is like a ghost town. Not even tumbleweeds pass by.

    In fact, I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s newest book and even HE mentions Facebook in the book. That really shocked me!

  2. My wife, and her friends and family all use Facebook. And all of my wife’s Japanese work friends use Facebook. I actually asked then if they used mixi but they all said they have never used mixi. In fact one of my wifes frieds said she would never use mixi because she believed it is just a place where people look for sex friends. I think a lot of it is due to the popularity of the iPhone in Japan, nearly every person I saw, especially young people have an iPhone. (Which has integrated Facebook support.)

  3. Never used mixi for two reasons: 1. It’s too complex to sign up. 2. It doesn’t appeal to me.

    I’ve always used facebook for communicating with Japanese people. All I did was build a small foundation of Japanese facebook friends and ended up with loads because of that. Now my facebook wall is full of Japanese posts and I have Japanese people to talk to when I want to. There is no point in mixi anymore.

  4. As someone who dislikes Facebook and all it represents, I’ll stick with Mixi.

    I do find the reports of it’s demise a bit hasty… and it’s definitely not hard to sign up if you do have a .edu e-mail.

    And being intrinsically in Japanese is a plus in my book.

    • I agree with this, though my main problem with facebook is that it does massive surveillance of the users and wants to become a king of the internet, while Mixi isn’t anything as greedy

      • I’m following a few communities on Google+, and it seems to have a pretty large Japanese userbase. I don’t know what the social conventions for making new friends are, and whether Google or Facebook is the greater evil is… open to debate at best :) Still, it’s another option worth mentioning.

  5. I have a Mixi, but I never actually used it much. I had more luck with Twitter when it came to talking with Japanese people. I like Ameba too, but I don’t use it much.

    With Google Circles, I feel better about keeping more things private. It’s easier to keep in track of who are your online friends and who are your real life friends and how much you want to share with each circle. A little like Mixi in a way. I’m hoping things will transfer over to Google+ someday. I don’t mind Facebook and I like its services and how I can keep in touch with friends. But I do feel Facebook is greedy and I don’t like that. I don’t like how they force people to share their real information either.

  6. Wow that sure sums up a lot, well i was about to register in Mixi and i encountered every issue that was mentioned in this post, am going to try to follow the tips as carefully as i can, as i am really interested in both learning Japanese and having Japanese friends, i do really hate of being mistaken with some kind of a stalker (>__>) i know a little bit of Japanese but the last time i tried to use it with a Japanese female it didn’t work out well even though i was completely polite and just wanted to test my skill in initiating a conversation but that girl gave a strange look so i end up saying it was nice to talk to her and walked away, i just think that japanese people are very sensitive to an unbelievable level, maybe its just me and thats why i wanna know more about their culture.

  7. This is a very interesting idea and I shall give it a try to see how it works out and give you a feedback. I had always wondered why there are not too many Japanese people using Facebook. As for the Chinese, I know their govt blocked Facebook. I was very puzzled by this considering that the co-founder of Facebook Zuckerberg is married to a Chinese woman! What an irony! But life is riddled with ironies! hahehahe WENDY WAFCO ON WHY THERE ARE NOT TOO MANY JAPANESE ON FACEBOOK

  8. adam i spent 2 years on kyushu at itazuki afb in the early 60’s and would love to revisit there soon. i would also like to make friends with the folks over there. i known things have changed since then. i lived downtown for two years with a wonderful family. i need to contact someone to bring me up to date and get advice on the changes and customs. adigato for any info you could give me. please reply. i will include any info you need.

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