Japanese After-School Clubs too Consuming for Foreign Parents

The Japan Times is reporting on concerns from non-Japan nationals shocked by the amount of time consumed by their children in after-school clubs.

The article reports that sports clubs typically demand five or six days of practice a week, after school and on weekends and sometimes even before school yet is seen as something that most Japanese parents accept as a normal and desirable rite of passage in their child’s development.

In general, junior high schools expect children to pick a club upon entering the school and stick with it. Teenagers and club activities – commonly known as bukatsu or kurabu – go together as naturally in Japan as sushi and wasabi.  Those with no interest in sports, or who want a more relaxed schedule, typically choose a cultural club like art, science or cooking, that doesn’t meet as often. Quitting your club is usually frowned upon and is rather sardonically referred to as kitaku-bu (going home club).

While foreign parents generally want to see shorter practices, less time spent on each activity and more flexibility in allowing students to combine multiple activities during their teenage years, many have also developed an appreciation of the merits of bukatsu. As Japan became wealthier and the values of the younger generation shifted, the idea of “discipline though sports” became popular with educators in the late 1970s, and that mindset remains largely unchanged today.

The coaches are usually teachers at the school. While the PE teacher coaching the baseball team or the music teacher leading the brass band might be no-brainer choices, many of the teachers have little experience or even interest in the activities they might end up leading.

Click here to read the full article and survey results | Article and Image via The Japan Times.


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