Tomodachi Japan is a self-described relationship forum setup for foreign people to meet Japanese people in Japan. It follows a simple yet powerful model that reminds me of some other sites that have made waves on the internet and around the world.
The premise is straightforward. When you visit Tomodachi Japan you see the latest posts presented in order. Each post is short and to the point. People leave messages along with a method of contact like an ID for use with the Line app.
Some on Tomodachi Japan people say they’re just looking for friends or someone to talk to. Others are more explicit or forward in looking for a “friend with benefits”. Some people are even looking for dates and are willing to compensate. It’s a real mixed bag. But it’s all in English and easy to read.
You can actually sort through the posts too. Down at the bottom of the page there are links that allow you to narrow down posts by region. You can also narrow them down by nationality. Of course you can make your own posts too. All you have to do is click a button and get typing.
Keeping it simple
The Tomodachi Japan relationship forum is a new sort of thing. Yet it is very familiar. It is not a forum in the mold of the discussion forums that were once quite popular on the internet. It is more like a bulletin board that has been updated and specialized for a particular audience. In this case that means foreigners who want to meet Japanese people, and vice versa.
Regular readers may note that I have posted some translations of Japanese interviews here that originally appeared on sites like 2Chan. That anonymous image board model has since spread around the world. More recently it has even come under fire. Yet there can be no doubt that the basic idea behind that site had a real impact.
Then there’s Craigslist. For the English speaking world this has been a major site for many years. Although it is quite basic in appearance, it was the go to website for countless millions of people looking for anything from a used bicycle to a handjob. In the early days of this site I used to mention it a lot. Then the site ditched its erotic services section and more recently even got rid of its personals section. People still post ads for erotic services and personals in various other sections, but the site is not what it used to be.
Tomodachi Japan falls into the same sort of mold. You can figure out what the site is about as soon as you see it. And you don’t need to fumble around or fight your way through various ads or menus just to get to the main content.
What makes it special is the way it has embraced modern technology. When 2Chan and Craigslist were in their heydays most people had old flip phone if they even had a cell phone at all. Today most people have a smart phone. And a lot of them are using apps like Line and WeChat for most of their daily communication.
Tomodachi Japan has built a form that allows posters to include their chat app identification codes right into their listings. So you can easily browse through all the posts. And when you find someone you want to talk to, you just add them to your app and send a message. If either party is uninterested it is very easy to end the discussion. If they are both interested, it’s just as easy to move forward.
All the information you need is right up front and easy to find. For example, I was just looking at a post from a 24 year old woman in Tokyo. I saw her stats at the top right of her post. Then I read about what she was looking for. Then I got her Line ID. How simple is that?
Because Tomodachi Japan is so straightforward and easy to use, I think it will get a lot of attention. There are already a lot of people posting on the site. So clearly there is big potential here. As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics approach, I bet the number of people meeting on Tomodachi Japan will rapidly increase.