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 school.

Given how much of Japanese society is structured around group membership, it might feel surprising that the number-one choice among the survey respondents is not to join one. However, on top of the high academic expectations placed on Japanese kids by their schools, many of them also attend separate cram schools in the evening. Add in an extracurricular activity, and many of them are left with precious little unstructured leisure time in which to explore independent interests at their own pace, socialize with friends outside their school/club affiliations, or even just relax and mentally recharge. Even the most industrious and outgoing of people occasionally crave some responsibility-free time to themselves, and being part of the “going home club” is one of the few ways kids in Japan can expect to build that into their lifestyle.

Of course, it’s important to remember that Simeji’s survey is, after all, a survey, and so it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that each and every kid in Japan secretly hates practicing the clarinet or working on their free throw form. There’s also likely a bit of a demographic imbalance among the participants, as dance club, for example, tends to be proportionately much more popular among girls, and neither soccer nor baseball, perennially professed preferences of teen boys, are nowhere on the list. If nothing else, though, it’s proof that a lot of kids in Japan would like more frequent breaks from being pushed down the path of self-improvement.

Source: PR Times
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3)
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