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Sure, tennis and band are fun, but it’s hard to beat the appeal of kitaku.

Japan is often described as a group-oriented society, and that affects school life too. Especially in middle and high school, kids in Japan are strongly encouraged to sign up for extracurricular activities, and some schools even make joining a club or sports team mandatory.

Because Japanese extracurricular activities often have pretty intense practice/meeting schedules, doing more than one usually isn’t possible, so choosing what club to join is an important decision. Japanese smartphone text-entry app Simeji recently asked its users which school club they want to join, collecting 2,690 responses from users aged 10 to 19 and compiled a list of the top 10, so let’s look at the results.

10. Table tennis
9. Light music
8. Tennis
7. Badminton
6. Basketball

Racket sports had a strong showing in the 6-10 rankings, which also included the “light music” (or keion, to use the Japanese term) club, which specializes in modern/pop music, as opposed to classical or marching varieties.

5. Art
4. Concert band
3. Volleyball
2. Dance

The 2-5 group is where the traditional school concert band shows up. As for the dance club, in Japanese schools it’s usually a mix of jazz and hip hop styles, often performed as a group, not ballroom, ballet, or interpretive routines.

And finally, at the top of the list, the club the respondents most want to join is what’s referred to in Japanese as “kitaku-bu,” literally “going home club,” or, in laymen’s terms…

not being part of any extracurricular activity at all, and being free to go do what they want after …continue reading