Making & Maintaining Friendships in Japan

Friends are important, especially when you’re trying to adjust to a life in a foreign country.  One issue I often hear from other foreigners who spend any amount of time living here is that it’s hard to make close relationships or friendships, especially with Japanese people.

To some extent this is a valid concern.  Making acquaintances in Japan is really easy because Japanese people are usually friendly, polite, and curious about getting to know foreigners.  Then for some reason it seems pretty common that foreigners will eventually hit a wall and never move the friendship beyond that “acquaintance” stage.  Japanese and Western culture differ in many ways, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the Japanese approach to making new relationships is also slightly different.  Once you learn to recognize and consider a more “Japanese” approach to meeting people, it’s a lot easier to make and get closer to new friends here.

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Tokyo Design Festa Vol. 39

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Last Saturday an old friend who flew over here for a wedding, who coincidentally I hadn’t seen since our wedding a few years back, invited me out to come with her to Design Festa 2014 going on that weekend at Tokyo Big Sight and catch up.

I hadn’t really looked up anything about it going in, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  My mental image was a bunch of art, crafts, local goods companies, and graphic/interior design companies coming together for a huge promotional and networking event.  I was a bit off the mark, though.  The event was much more laid back with a bunch of indies and upcoming artist and designers displaying and selling their wares.  If you’re looking for some cool new accessories or clothing, knick knacks or art prints to decorate your pad, or some insight on what the next big trend in the character world of Japan might be, this is the place for you.  The amount of talent showcased in one place was astounding, and I hope I’ve managed to capture a small part for anyone checking out this post.

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Showing Some Parental Unit Love

Just like in the U.S., Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in Japan are celebrated the second Sunday of May or third Sunday of June.  Every year I send my parents and grandparents some love from abroad, but coming up with something creative each year can sometimes be challenging.  I also send my former host family parents a present, because we’ve bonded so much since my stay and over my years living here they’re pretty much “my family” as far as living in Japan goes. But as both holidays are relatively recent additions in Japan, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in the flower rut.

Whether you’re looking to change it up a little this year or looking for some good places to shop, I hope you’ll find this entry helpful.

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A Visit to the Cat Cafe

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Cat Cafe Nyanko
© J // Washing Rice Blog

With a sizable amount of the population living in rental properties due to exorbitant land costs for building a family home, owning a pet is often not an option.  But that’s okay, because Japan’s marketing experts have come up with just the thing!  For a small entry fee or the cost of a few drinks, you can chill, feed, pet, play, and take pics with cute and cuddly animals waiting for some lovin’s at dog and cat cafes all across the country.

Since I’ve long accepted that I can’t own every cat in the world, I’ve always particularly found the idea of cat cafes appealing.  Play and love on a bunch of kitties without the hassle of cleaning litter boxes?  Yep, that’s right up my alley!  Little did I know there was a cat cafe hidden on a street I often take to work, right in our neighborhood.

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