Usually when I meet Japanese people, even though I speak Japanese, they may be hesitant to properly introduce themselves to me, particularly if it is a group with multiple people and one distinct leader, or connection between my group and theirs. One thing I try and make a point of is coming across as interested in learning each of their names, and not just getting their name second-handedly after the introduction phase is over. I feel like this makes the introduction process in Japan (which is indeed a bit of a “process”, almost ritualistic in nature) a much smoother transition into the events of the day or evening. It is possible to not even be on a first name basis with people, and still be having a great time; this could be attributed to the linguistic tendency in Japan to omit a person’s name from speech, and merely phrasing statements and questions differently so that who the question is directed at is unmistakable. However I feel that just knowing someone’s name and actively using it can make everything a bit more personal, open, and moreover bring out the sort of “cross-cultural exchange” that Japanese are so enthusiastic about.