Smalltalk Without Speaking Much Japanese

How to Smalltalk with Japanese people if you don’t speak much japanese

So you live in Japan and want to meet Japanese people but don’t speak much japanese? Here is what you can do:

The International Party

An international party is a great place to meet locals who want to talk to you. Try Élan, IFP or Gaitomo.

Ask people about their age, school, occupation. Let them guess your age. Try to ask about their hobbies or what they like.
If you ask for a hobby by using the word “shumi” some might say sleeping and eating. Hobbies seem to be seen as something private or only activities where they are really good at (sports, instruments). If you ask about likes then you might find out more.
Talk about yourself and your country. Show photos from your phone.

Try to exchange line or facebook.

The one on one meetup

Contact them by social media and set up a meeting. Japanese people are reluctant to say no directly. They might be busy or uninterested to meet you, if they say “it’s difficult” or don’t agree to on a date. Don’t get angry.

Meet up in a public space, for instance the Hachiko Statue in Shibuya. Then go out for lunch.
During the lunch first ask more questions. If you’re out of topics, show photos from your phone. Family pictures, photos of your hometown and your hobbies work well. With this technique you can communicate a lot without saying much.

If the lunch goes well, Karaoke or bowling might be a fun activity which don’t require many words.