On mixi, there are all kinds of “skype communities”, where thousands of people make posts on forums on how they are looking for someone to talk with.
You do need to register with a Japanese cell phone e-mail address, so you may need help from a Japanese friend to get started if you don’t live in Japan.
For many, Twitter, the microblogging site and Facebook, have become the easiest, quickest and most reliable way of keeping in touch with relatives as well as providing emergency numbers and information to those in stricken areas.
People in Japan used it to post news about how serious the situation was where they were, along with uploads of mobile videos they had recorded.
Frequently these videos were viewed by hundreds of thousands of people before the mainstream media had picked up on them and rebroadcast the footage.
Relief organisations used Twitter to post information for non-Japanese speakers to lists of shelters for those left homeless.
Many mobile phone networks are unable to cope in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, if hundreds of thousands of customers try to make a call or send a text at the same time, as many Londoners discovered during the July 2007 terrorist incidents.
You want more spoken practice without having to pay money, or go to Japan, or make friends, or leave your house.
You’ve tried contacting people on social networks, but you just want something simple. The Japanese App 斉藤さん (Saito-san) has been gaining steam lately, with over 10,000,000 users, and the ability to do exactly what you want. "She was Facebook chatting from under her desk at Yokohama International School, while the quake was going on. "She couldn't contact her parents a few miles away – the phones were down and the trains had stopped running – but we knew she was OK on the other side of the world.Facebook and Twitter are automatically the first place you now go to to find out what is going on." Twitter, which allows users to post very short messages – no longer than 140 characters long – became very popular with people trying to find out news.Skype, however, continued to work well, as did Facebook and Twitter as well as Mixi, Japan's most popular social networking site.Jill Murphy, a teacher from Liverpool, said she kept in touch with her 15-year-old cousin via Facebook chat – an instant messaging service run by the popular website.Offered in both Japanese and English web sites, the tool has a link for people seeking information about friends and loved ones in areas affected by the quake and tsunami and it had another link for people wanting to post information about individuals. NHK, the Japanese government television broadcaster, was streaming footage via i Phone applications to viewers on the other side of the world, allowing people thousands of miles away, and even those without televisions, to watch live pictures.