Mixi. The language study haven for Japanese learners. If you’ve never heard of it, you need to sign up right now before you even start reading the next sentence. If you have used it in the past, are you using it to its full potential? Consider it your master sword.
What makes Mixi so great is it puts the live Japanese world right at your fingertips. Were you trying silly old Japanese/English language exchanges to practice your Japanese before? Don’t ever do that again.
The main power of Mixi is finding new Japanese friends who are just dying to talk to you in Japanese. There are 4 ranks to consider when doing this. First click on the コミュニティ (community) button near the top. Then do the following:
Rank 4: English Reliant
Insert the search term “English”. You will get a lot of results of groups like “EnglishとJapanese 英会話交換”,”☆English⇔Japanese☆”, and “Japanese-English Meet up.”
This rank is okay if you are still nervous to talk to people in Japanese. These groups contain people who probably speak a good amount of English and want a language exchange. Do not expect to get much Japanese practice out of this.
Rank 3: Weening off of English
Insert the search term “外国人.” Results will look like:
In these groups, respond to posts that are in English. They will be along the lines of “I want to make friends with foreigners, please message me!” Because these posts are in English, expect the people to want to speak a lot of English, hence the same problem in rank 4. However, because these groups are more along the lines of “Let’s make friends with foreigners,” there English probably isn’t that good, and you’ll be able to get in some Japanese.
Rank 2: Japanese With Free Reign
Insert the same search term “外国人” and access the same groups as rank 3. The difference is you seek the posts that say “外国人の友達が欲しい！でも日本語しか話せないけど・・・” (I want some foreigner friends, but I only speak Japanese) or “外国人と友達になりたい。英語はあまり分からない”. (I want to be friends with foreigners but I don’t understand much English.” The best is no mention of language or English at all.
As you can probably guess, these are people who don’t really care about learning English, but just want to have foreigner friends. For the most part, your conversations will be in Japanese, with occasionally some minor English, or at least an interest in English.
Rank 1: Pure Japanese Ownage
Insert the search term “Skype”. You’ll get results such as “Skype me!スカイプやってます” or “SkyMix!! mixiでSkype（スカイプ)”
Why is this the top rank? These are people who don’t care about foreign language and don’t care that you are a foreigner. They just want people to talk to. About anything, and at all times of the day or night. Many of these people are lonely, and just want someone to talk to. Of course all posts and conversations will be all in Japanese.
Now that you know your way around the communities you want to access, you’ve got to actually make contact. There are 2 methods of doing this.
1. Contact directly
This is pretty simple. Just respond to their posts. Either send them a direct message, or send them a friend request. Or do what I do, and send them a nice message in a friend request. 99% of the time, you will get a response (usually within 5 minutes due to the excitement they have.)
2. Make your own post on any of the communities above.
This is the way to get a lot of friends at once with not much work. Write a post in Japanese that you are from (insert country), you speak some Japanese, you like (insert hobby), and you want to make some friends. Expect to receive a lot of friend requests from one post.
Talking On Skype
Once you are friends with these people (exchange a few messages), suggest you talk on Skype. If you met these people from one of the skype communities, this is very simple and you can be talking immediately.
Mixi is not Facebook. Do not treat it like it. Don’t be concerned with accepting every single person that friend requests you. Don’t be concerned with talking to complete strangers. Yes, there are some crazy people on Mixi, but who cares. And even with that, I fully recommend that you put up your picture on your profile. While most Japanese Mixi users do not, it will get you many more friend requests and people will be more interested in talking with you.
No go out and use this powerful weapon.
(Video: finding Mixi for the first time)