Today I’m going to talk briefly about a part of society in Japan and how it functions. In Japan people are identified by the groups that they belong to. These groups range from the school you go to, to the company you work for. For example, since I am a student at Sophia University right now, I would introduce myself as Sophia University’s Derek Miller.
Anyway, in college life there are clubs just like there are in America. At Sophia there are clubs and circles. The difference between the two is the amount of time that they spend per week practicing or meeting to do whatever the club is about. In Japan one of the best ways to make friends is to join one of these circles or clubs and immerse yourself in it. At large schools there are dozens of clubs and circles, and they cover all sorts of activities from sports to video games to art such as calligraphy. Becoming a member of a club gives you a chance to meet new people from different backgrounds but with a common interest, and doing that in Japan is very important and helpful. The people you meet in these clubs will also sometimes be the people that you hang out with outside of class and during the free time you have.
I have actually been in Japan for almost five months now, and I have had a chance to have the whole club experience at two schools. During the summer, I studied at Kanazawa Institute of Technology, and there I joined the breakdance club. I was in Kanazawa for only six weeks and unfortunately at the time was not sure where to go, what to do, and had a long list of things I wanted to do. Initially I only went to the breakdance club a couple times a week, but as the weeks passed I started going more often, and this was for several reasons. I found that the easiest way to make friends here in Japan was through the club experience, and it gave me a chance to experience part of the social life of college age Japanese students. The breakdance club also had students from other nearby smaller schools and some people who were in their early twenties and had recently graduated from college and were now working. Thus it gave a chance to also connect with people living in the Kanazawa area and find out about events that were going on and fun places to go.
Having had so much fun at the breakdance club in Kanazawa I decided to seek out the club here at Sophia called G-Splash. G-Splash is a very awesome and dedicated group of dancers at Sophia. The club itself covers a number of dance styles ranging from breakdancing to popping and hip-hop. I have also joined a more social club, the Sophia International Student Exchange Council (SISEC), and I go once a week to the calligraphy club. The clubs here are not only a lot of fun, but they have helped me in many ways as well.
I have been given an opportunity to make a lot of new friends who are Japanese, and it has given me the chance to speak Japanese a lot more often than I would otherwise normally have. I have also made a lot of awesome friends who are eager to tell me where events are and when. They also know where fun things like good restaurants or other food places are to go eat and relax.