Aside from a determined effort to keep the community on-topic, it's pretty laid back. Just hit the comment wall, or start a thread on the Discussion section if you're planning to share something that requires organized feedback.
Thanks for the friend add. For future communication that's not part of a forum discussion, though, I suggest that email would probably be more convenient, if that works for you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I've only been to Kobe twice; the time I mentioned after the quake, and one earlier time for a short vacation and visit with my sister. As for my "furusato", it is in Oregon. I lived in various locations there, until moving to Japan at age 29.
No problem about no prayer, your good wishes are far more valuable to me anyway.
Yes, I also tend to avoid religious discussions in Japan, or anywhere unless I have reason to believe that kind of discussion is welcome. That would include when others bring up the subject, or in forums for that purpose. Unfortunately, too many people are extremely sensitive about it, and take any expression of negative views of their particular belief system as a personal attack. Actually, in Japan though, it's not so much that people are offended by such discussions, as that they are uninterested and perhaps also afraid of offending others.
Unfortunately, I am addicted to online discussion forums. I have been spending way too much time on the one at Care2 I mentioned (here if you're interested: http://www.care2.com/causes/politics/blog/gop-lawmaker-thinks-islam-is-a-cult)
and finally just indicated my intention to pry myself away, and said goodbye. I should probably do likewise here, for now, but I welcome further contact from you at any time.
No, I'm not the David from Hyogo. I worked as an English teacher, mostly at Gregg in Tokyo, but a few others also, and also had private lessons, the first two years. My main interest was software engineering, but I needed to get some income quickly, and teaching jobs were easy to come by in those days, so I did that while looking for a permanent SW position.
You've been in Kobe your entire 15 years in Japan? Did you arrive before or after the quake? My elder sister was there then. She was one of only two US citizens who died in that quake. I went there two days later to meet her friends, make funeral arrangements, and view the damage. I'd never seen such devastation.
Yes, now that you mention it Matt and I did have a rather lively exchange. I had almost forgotten, in that I'm now engaged in another lively exchange in a mixed (atheist/theist) forum on Care2.
You are right about the absence of atheists in Japan. Almost everyone is agnostic, including my wife. I get along very well with agnostics, because at least they don't try to convert everyone, but on the other hand, who ever heard of an agnostic activist? In my 25 years in Japan, I only ran into one atheist, and he too was a "gaijin." I often thought of making a Japan subgroup of one of two groups I founded, but found no-one there to join. One of the groups, GodBusters, is a discussion group similar to atheistnexus; and the other, EARTHWARD, is an international charity organization that provides emergency aid to victims of religious violence.
Actually, I am now in the US (Washington state), though my permanent address and family are still in Japan. My son has some problems with his vision that requires therapy not available in Japan. The doctor who invented the therapy is in Seattle, so I've been trying, to no avail so far, to find employment, so we can relocate to the area. Running out of typing space, so more later . . .
"Hi D. Miller, thanks for your 'friend' invitation and congratulations on your freedom from religion. You're obviously a seeker of truth, like me. As I'm new to the site, for the moment I'm reserving acceptance of 'friend' requests to those who give helpful feedback on my own comments - sorry, nothing personal."
No problem. I was actually just trying to leave a brief "Hello", as I was amused to find another atheist "David Sensei." I've lived in Japan for 25 years, and taught English the first two. Yoroshiku.