Second comment... I have some social anxiety, and find it hard to make friends in all countries from my home country (Belgium, although it was much easier due to being in school), Canada (college, again some advantage due to being in college but not that much), and the USA (graduate school). I basically have very little friends and find that Americans do not want to become close too fast and prefer remaining acquaintances for a very long time. However, I found that in Japan I was much more able to make friends. I was never there long enough to become very close friends, but I had genuine friends there, including some who were adamant I improve my Japanese so we can talk in Japanese instead of half English half Japanese (they spoke English at an okay level but their wife wasn't as good). I was invited over to their house for a long weekend so we could visit different cities together. Maybe it's different when you live there on the long term.
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Once in a suburb of Tokyo, where I lived, a small kid ran towards me, and still at a distance started yelling "GAIJIN GAIJIN !!!!!!", his parents were somewhat behind but could see the scene and seemed half embarrassed of his behavior and half curious about the Gaijin walking down their street. I just pointed back at him, took the same pose as him, and yelled "NIHONJIN NIHONJIN !!!!!!" The kid was startled and looked back at his parents who were laughing pretty hard. Heh, some light humor is sometimes all you need :)
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