Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Making Friends in Japan

Depicted here is the Endearing Miss C, looking cheerful as ever alongside the Delightful Miss E, despite being photographed in her last day at work. Until recently Miss C worked at "Cafe EAD", a little cafe near the lake in Matsue. This is where we originally met her, though we made friends at the University of Shimane, where she was studying art in the Faculty of Law and Literature. Since this photo was taken, Miss C has moved to Kyoto to commence working at a Wedding magazine publishing company in Osaka.

Miss C is perhaps typical of the kind of person it is unusual to make friends with when one moves to a foreign country. She speaks very little English, and while she lived in Matsue she was very busy at 3 jobs and study. Every second week she travelled to Tokyo to participate in a photography training course (hence all the extra work). As a consequence we didn't see her very often. Fortunately for us, the Endearing Miss C is a very calm, patient and relaxed kind of person, so she was never shy of meeting us or challenged by our language differences even though, in fact, our language differences were sufficient to give ordinary people the complete willies. Neither the Delightful Miss E nor myself are near to being able to sustain an interesting conversation without at least the help of a dictionary, and preferably also the assistance of our interlocutor. None of these problems phased Miss C in the slightest.

I have heard that it is difficult to make friends in Japan, because they are shy and reserved and perhaps also because they see foreigners as too radically different for ordinary conversation. While this may be true in some cases, I have found that the limits of my ability to make friends here are usually set by me - I often don't have the time, the language difference seems so hard, and I wonder why Japanese people would want to challenge themselves with this problem when there are so many Japanese people they can make friends with. However, since meeting the Stunningly Handsome Mr. Hiroki in Tottori, then Misses H and K, and on to the various kickboxers here in Matsue, it has proven quite easy to make friends. Miss C is merely the latest example of how wherever one goes it is quite easy to find people with whom you have enough in common to sustain a decent friendship.

The biggest problem with making friends here in Matsue has actually proven to be the opposite - the frustration of losing them. Perhaps because it is the country, perhaps because they are students, but it seems that a lot of friends here disappear through moving on. I moved from Tottori, my kickboxing friend Mr. Y returned to Yonago, and now Miss C has migrated over the Mountains to Kyoto. These sudden disappearances sometimes make the whole effort - particularly with students - seem wasted, though they carry with them a certain poignancy, happening as they do in October (Autumn, the end of things) or April (Spring, their renewal). So it is, perhaps, that after the dark days of this looming winter have passed, I will again find the possibility of new companionship. Let us hope that this time it lasts past the fall of next years' leaves!


Blogger Miss Ember said...

I miss Miss C! :(

1:14 AM  

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