So, in my last post I spouted some more bullsh-, I mean advice, about how awesome it is to learn Japanese from a penfriend/email friends.
I thought I'd also share some thoughts about which sites I have found useful.
I've had some good luck with http://www.japan-guide.com/local/. I think it was through that site that my wife first emailed me. But, in any case I've had a 3 or 4 long-lasting penpals because of that site, which I think is pretty good going. And additionally, this was a long time ago, and is definitely a good site for beginners of Japanese.
For those at the more advanced level*, I have a couple of recommendations. I've used Atmeltomo.com for a while now, I believe its one of the first hits if you do a google search, as is merutomopark.jp. But for those of you who haven't typed メル友 (email friend) into google before, I think its worth a bit of a summary.
Atmeltomo.com is good in that it has a pretty large user base, and there is always someone online (though I've not had a huge amount of luck finding these online people in the early hours of Japan Standard Time), and submitting a post usually gets a few replies. In addition to creating a profile, you can submit posts in one of several categories, which correspond to most things you might want to talk about. You can also post in different age categories if you'd prefer to find someone your own age, or in geographic categories (which consists of the different regions of Japan and "overseas").
I try not to to post in the overseas section, as that usually results in being inundated with messages from people wanting to learn English, but if your Japanese isn't so good, it might be a good place to start from, as a lot of visitors to that message board have at least some proficiency in English.
The site has its cons though. Firstly, it is riddled with some pretty ahem naughty adverts. As much as I'm fond of the female form, its not terribly conducive to level-headed conversation, and I use an ad-blocker on it these days. Maybe its because of this that there seem to be a lot of people on that site with dubious intentions... Also, I find that most of the people I come into contact with stop emailing quite quickly. Though, that could be a personality problem (-_-)
Merutomopark.jp covers atmeltomo's weak points pretty well: it has a filter to defend against the horny people (which actually caught me out when I was writing my profile... Though I've no idea what I wrote to make it do that), and the site is almost entirely ad-free. Unfortunately Merutomopark has a much reduced user base, but nonetheless, the two posts I made there have gotten a fair number of replies.
One slight problem with merutomopark is the lack of categories. You can post by age or region, but if you have a specific question or topic you want to go through, there isn't going to be a separate board for that. The other significant missing feature is notifications. When someone sends you a message, you wont know until you log back into merutomopark.
To summarise, if you're looking to chat to a Japanese person right now and don't want to use a chat room, atmeltomo is the place to be (once you kill the adverts), and it's sister site atskype.jp is possibly even better in that respect. If you're more patient and just want an email friend, I think merutomopark is a better bet.
That said, if you're a beginner, there loads of English-language penpal sites (which you don't need my help to find), some of which may have some Japanese people on, though I'll mention Japan-guide.com again, because I had some success** with it.
*or those prepared to use a dictionary to guide themselves through the registration process
**Not that I'm a big proponent of using penpal sites for finding spouses, but I'd say that a wife and child is a pretty big success