I get it, not everybody is good with social interactions or conversations. Hell, I’m naturally one of those people and definitely have my fair share of awkward moments. Obviously, it’s not required to interact with other wotas just because there’s a bunch around, but I’ve found that it can make for a more rewarding overall experience if you do.

If you’re interested in some random tips for making some international friends, here are some pointers that I’ve collected through my years of trips.

Whether you can speak Japanese or not, the most important things are your effort to communicate and your interest in others.

  • Show interest in people and ask about them.
  • Humans in general like talking about themselves and if you show genuine interest in them, you can gain friends easily.
  • Usually if you ask others about them, they’ll likely become just as curious about you. Tada! Bonding!

Gestures carry more weight than words.

  • You can screw up what you say and get a free pass because you’re a foreigner.
  • But if your actions show that you’re an ass, then you’re an ass.
  • Faux pas storytime: I was with a few American wotas amongst a bunch of Japanese wotas. One American was silent for the longest time, even though I personally knew this person was capable of communicating. Feeling sorry for them being left out, a Japanese wota attempted to bring them into the conversation and ask them about their origin story. How did this person react to that? Silently and promptly whip out a picture that they had taken with said idols, in a very pompous manner. It roughly translated into “Well if you MUST ask, I’m actually very special. See?” This got the predicted reaction of some polite “oh cool”s and “awesome”s. But that was it. Everybody immediately went back to their conversation and this person back to their silence. Moral of the story is: nobody likes an asshole who contributes nothing and only finds opportunities to gloat about themselves. And assholishness crosses language borders.
  • Also, don’t be a thirsty joshi wota wota. Joshi wota = a girl wota. Joshi wota wota is a wota of girl wotas. So you’re basically there to chase after girls. They can smell your ulterior motives coming from miles away, and nobody likes it. So quit that shit.

Foreigner or not, you already have a ton of things in common with these people. Why not use them as topics?

  • Some things to start conversations with:
    • their favorite member
    • how they got into the group
    • their favorite songs
    • what goods they plan to buy today
    • what other events are they going to in the near future
  • If you let the conversation flow, those few topics alone can really open up to wider conversations.
  • Even if you can’t speak Japanese, you can motion. A lot of people will actually be kind enough to try to communicate with you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

  • Most Japanese people will try to help a foreigner in trouble, but this is usually more pronounced with fellow wotas. Almost all of them will be happy to know that their idols are amazing enough to win over people from overseas. And even more happy that they’ve won them over enough for said foreigners to cross the ocean to see them. Because of that, there’s an extra connect and they’re usually more willing to help you.

Try to give back and don’t just take.

  • The friends that I’ve met across my trips have helped me so much, sometimes it kind of bothers me because I can’t really do them any favors.
  • I try to pay back favors whenever it’s possible but the options are pretty limited given our circumstances of being the guest.
  • Never the less, here are a couple of ways to give back.
    • If there’s a concert in your home country and they need help buying tickets, booking a hotel, or getting transportation.
    • If you’re lined up for goods in Japan, sometimes people who only need a few things will ask if you can get something for them so they don’t have to line up.

I’ve been a few times a year for the past few years, and I can’t imagine how they’d be if I hadn’t met the people I had. There’s awesome people as well as not as awesome people, just like humans all over the world. But I definitely think it’s made for a more fun-saturated experience with my friends and acquaintances.

I would definitely suggest at least trying to befriend a few people, especially if you plan on making repeat trips.