One of my biggest fears when I came to Japan was that I wouldn’t be able to connect with anyone outside of the classroom. I was worried that no one would be interested in getting to know the random American guy at the school. But, I wasn’t going to give up without at least giving it a shot. So I went to work the first week hoping to make some friends. That’s when I met Mei, Akane, and Minori—three seniors studying design here at the university. We instantly became good friends during my thirty minute tutoring session, so I asked them what they were doing that weekend. It turned out that Akane was extremely good at singing, and she was going to perform at a bar that Sunday. I sort-of invited myself to go see her, and we ended up making plans to spend the whole day together.
Before we did anything, we had to eat. So we met up at around noon and they took me and the other intern I was working with, Nia, to go grab some udon. My only experience with udon at that point was that instant noodle thing you buy for a buck at Walmart. But eating udon in Japan is a life-changing experience. I had these spicy noodles with a side of chicken and shrimp tempura. It was one of the best meals I had ever eaten and it only cost me around $5. Would recommend.
After we had udon we killed some time shopping in a mall and then went over to the bar that Akane was performing at.
It was this small, hole in a wall place that was crammed wall to wall with patrons. I loved it. Everyone knew each oth
er there and the whole place was filled with shouting, singing, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Looking at me, you could tell instantly that I was a foreigner so I was a little sheepish at first. But everyone was so kind and friendly; they were recommending me Japanese liquor and affectionally calling me “oniisan”. I immediately felt like I was at home with my friends.
Then we got to hear Akane sing. She played her guitar and sang with her big sister who also played the keyboard. “How much of it could you understand?” I hear you asking. Well,
around 15%. But their voices were beautiful, and they were extremely talented on their instruments so I enjoyed it a lot.
After the performance, we all decided to go out and get some drinks to celebrate. Akane new this one place that had $2 drinks so we obviously made our way there. We stayed out for about five hours or so, just having fun and talking. I told them about the U.S. and they told me about Japan. I taught them some English, and they taught me some Japanese in return. At the end of the night we all went our separate ways with plans to meet up again soon. Before I came to Japan, I was worried that I wouldn’t make
a lot of friends because of the language and cultural barriers. But I’m happy to say that it hasn’t been an issue so far.