(Issues for OYRs)
One of the main problems between the groups at ICU, the OYRs, the September students and the April students seems to be actually meeting one another. In Japan there are certain ways one normally makes friends, such as joining a club or living in the dorms. But many of the students do not have these opportunities. For example, many clubs do not want OYR students, who are preoccupied with traveling and are only at ICU for a year anyway. Compared to other Japanese universities, a relatively small number of people join clubs at ICU. So ICU students are already at a disadvantage when it comes to meeting people.
A basic characteristic of forming Japanese relationships seems to be the consideration of the benefit of the relationship beforehand, because in Japan, individuals are not so much considered for their own ability, but who they know. Relationships in Japan are therefore taken very seriously, maintained, nurtured, and sometimes extinguished. To many OYRs, this is a strange process...especially to many Americans, who make friends with anyone, anywhere, and for any reason, and rely on their own personal ability to make it in life rather than the relationships they form.
Despite all these things, even if an opportunity arises for OYRs and Japanese students to make friends, there are still many barriers to be dealt with. For many students from abroad, (particularly Americans? Californians?) meeting someone new is an opportunity to start fresh and create new bonds, and diving into a new relationship is exciting. But for Japanese people, meeting new people seems to cause a lot of stress. Japanese people are concerned about 間合いのつめかた, which means how/when to progress in a relationship (suggestions on explanation?), a concept that most foreigners are thoroughly unaware of. The context of a situation and the ability to "read the air" dictates the appropriate behavior in Japanese mind, but for [Americans], personality and individual compatibility determine how the relationship will progress.
It is impossible to tell Japanese people to give up on their mindset, so the best thing for a foreigner in Japan to do is understand how Japanese people approach making new relationships. Foreigners should take the initiative when it comes to making Japanese friends, and they should also be aware of "imposing" too much of their own personality on sensitive situations; ie any first meeting one has with Japanese people they hope to befriend!
(ps: im really slow at learning how to use this...but i JUST read the discussion page after typing this....a lot of things that you guys talked about there i wrote here!! so feel free to modify/edit/add/change anything that i wrote! i made a new page because i feel we should start trying to "divide" the issues into pages...)