How to Make a Great First Impression on Japanese People

Written by Patrick K
Last updated: October 20, 2012

First impressions are extremely important. This is especially true on the Internet, since contacting new people is so easy.

On Oh My Japan, the first message you send to another member will greatly influence how that person perceives you and whether they choose to reply or not. Consider the tips below to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

1. Complete your own profile.

If a member is interested in your message, he or she will likely view your profile before replying. For this reason, before sending any messages, be sure to complete your profile and make it sound like you.

Don't leave your self introduction (under Basic Info) blank! Tell people what you like (and maybe what you don't like, too!)

2. Before writing a message, read your intended recipient's profile carefully.

Please don't simply find a member whose picture you like and send a message without reading the person's profile. Unlike many other social networking sites, Oh My Japan requires members to add a lot of information to their profiles before allowing them to send and receive messages. For this reason, it is only fair that you read members' profiles before you send them messages.

3. Check how many unread messages the member has.

In the upper left corner of each member's profile, the number of messages that member has received but has not yet read is displayed. Make sure to check that number and then decide whether to take the time to write a message. Members who have a large number of unread messages may not read your message, either.

4. Decide whether to write in English or Japanese (or both).

Whether to use English or Japanese depends on both your language ability as well as the language ability of the message recipient. To judge your intended recipient's language ability, take a close look at his or her profile.

On Oh My Japan, Japanese-speaking users are encouraged to write in English if they can. So, if a member's profile is written in Japanese, it probably means that they cannot speak or write English well.

When Writing in Japanese

If you know enough Japanese to write an e-mail, great! However, if you don't know any Japanese, I recommend writing in English instead. Do not use machine translation.

Why Not to Use Machine Translation

Also, if you are at a beginner to intermediate level in Japanese, it might be helpful to include your message in English as well. This way, if the Japanese person does not understand your Japanese, he or she may be able to guess what you meant based on your English.

When Writing in English

When writing in English, it is best to keep things simple for your first message. Use short sentences and make sure to write complete sentences. Organize your writing into paragraphs. This will make your writing much easier to understand for Japanese speakers.

More tips on writing English for Japanese people

5. Tell the person why you are interested in them!

In the first paragraph or two of your message, tell the person why you are interested in them. What did you read in their profile that piqued your interest?

6. Introduce yourself!

After you have explained why you are sending the person a message, introduce yourself. Remember, the person can easily read your profile, so you don't have to repeat everything in your profile-- just give the highlights, or perhaps even some information that is not in your profile.

7. Proofread your message before sending.

Your first message is your best chance to make a good impression on your recipient. So make sure you don't have any obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes! This is especially important when sending a message to non-native English speakers, who may be extremely confused by even a minor mistake.

About the Author


Patrick is the Director of R&D at Oh My Japan. He hopes to make OMJ the best site on the Internet for English and Japanese speakers to connect with one another.