Monday, May 18, 2009

New Challenges

I managed to survive my weekend away at work and had a great day today chatting with two other fellow kiwis raising families here. A nice way to relax after a busy weekend. Thanks!
There are times (not many) when I feel that by living in the countryside I am depriving my children of some opportunities that they would get if we lived in a bigger city. Of course I firmly believe that the benefits and opportunities they have by living in the countryside FAR outweigh these things, but I'm not going to get into the big city vs countryside debate here! One of the things I have always been a little sad about is that I haven't been able to give more sporting opportunities to my children. Of course they are still young, but I would like them to try as many things as they can, but because it takes a long time to go anywhere and the options are not great to start with they are currently only doing swimming and piano. I don't know about other areas, but the way sports are done in our area of Japan also drives me crazy and therefore I resist letting my children be a part of some of the sports clubs. For example, we received a list of sports clubs that are available for children in this area a few weeks ago and my son decided he wanted to do baseball and soccer. Problems...
  • Baseball - number of practices per month... 20 days! Average practice time per session 2 and a half hours. Saturdays and Sundays - 3 or 4 hours each day (yes I am talking about a club for primary school students... my son is 6 years old!).
  • Soccer - number of practices - twice a week (not too bad). Time of practice 5pm till 7pm. My children are usually in bed by 7:30pm at the latest.....
Anyway, I was very happy to see one new club this year - the gymnastics club! Number of practices - 2 days a MONTH. Time of practice 10am - 11:30am on a Saturday. That's right - a club where the kids can just try out the sport at a decent time of the day and see what they think about it without committing themselves and their parents to taking them to practices every day for the rest of their lives and never being able to participate in any other sporting activity - let alone spend any time with their families! My daughter was also really keen and had her first class on Saturday. As I was away working I couldn't go, but it sounds amazing. It is at a local high school where they have FULL gymnastic facilities - including sprung floor, all the beams, bars, vaults, trampolines etc. and what's more there were only about 10 kids there and they had FUN - something that is often not important in children's sports here. My son didn't want to join originally, but after watching the practice has also asked to join. And the cost for this wonderful, fun experience... 4,000 yen (NZ$70) for the entire year - usually the monthly fee for clubs is over 5,000 yen and there is generally a joining fee which makes you feel like you really need to continue for as long as possible to make it worthwhile. Here's hoping the enthusiasm remains and this style of club spreads further in rural Japan!


  1. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Are they insane, that many allotted practices in one month? That is so OTT, goodness, no wonder you saw a problem in this, even the clubs I belong to, four times a month, that's it...

    It's all about making the best of where you are. So gymnastics it is then! = )

  2. OMG check out the equipment - a real trampoline!! I looked briefly into bringing a trampoline back from New Zealand. Have coaches badge for simple level. Would probably kill self if got on after such long time - well, especially as nine months pregnant. Hope this club is still going in three years when Shou can start!!

    Thanks for yummy goodies today. Was great to catch up. Been too long. Hope to see you at the clinic - sooner rather than later.

  3. Wow! Sounds like a dream club! I agree with the crazy clubs thing. Do you have Asa-ren, too? The little leaguers here have 6:30am practise in the summer. Officially before it gets to hot, but sounds crazy to me!

  4. Anonymous4:43 AM

    Keep thinking like a kiwi when it comes to sports. I love their (the kiwi) attitude; it lets kids be kids. My son found the Japanese sports schedule more intense than that in America, and I think we, as Americans, overdo it! However, the one thing the Japanese recognize is that to do anything well, it takes practice. So.... practice piano a lot and exercise for fun! haha

  5. I can understand your and your children's situation.

    In my case, my son belonged to a local soccer club 5years ago when he was fifth grade in elementary school. The ground court for their training was ten minutes far on my foot, so he could go there by himself twice a week. But, I had to take him about twice a month to places where games were held. It was a little bit tiresome "labor" to me because my son did not have a good talent for soccer and he played for a very short time in a game. Now, he is a high school student and starts his carrer as tuba player in wind orchestra club. (He belonged to a wind orchestra club in junior high school.)

    BTW, there are too many sports that we can see in Japan, aren't?

    Baseball, Soccer, Baketball, Rugby, Volleyball, Swimming, Tennis, Badminton, Karate(Martial art) etc. How do you think?

  6. I whole heartedly agree. : ) And I think the baseball 20 sessions a month, is a bit overboard and extreme as well. And the soccer runs rather late doesn't it? @_@

    The gymnastics club sounds really awesome and the 4,000 yen for a full year, sounds like a dream, honestly. It sounds perfect! And can't beat that price! Our area has a gymnastics club but I think for our area kids have to be in the 3rd grade for it? : (

    I also agree on the high cost of joining clubs here, isn't it just nuts?! :D We pay about 6,200 yen each month per child for them to do swimming, not counting the goggles that need replacing or the new swim trunks that need replacing either as they grow and need larger sizes. It does add up, we pay about 12,400 a month just for swimming. But they get so much out of swimming, we'd never take them out of it, unless they wanted to.

    And Kumon is another extra curricular my older son takes. Granted not like an instrument, but again it's an expense. 6,200 per subject and my son takes two. @_@ Those prices. Ha ha ha.

    And for what it's worth the soccer thing didn't pan out for us either ; ), we also were gonna do soccer as well for my older son about 2 years ago and it didn't work out for us either. The reason we didn't do it, was because they met once a week, which isn't bad. *But* the meets were on Sunday mornings at like 7am or 7:30am. And the distance was that I'd have to drive him there. No thanks :D. Waking up freakishly early on the weekdays are one thing, but my weekends are my only chance to sleep in. I am a grouch without proper sleep. I just couldn't do it.

    Have a good week. : )

  7. keppechan10:22 PM


  8. We are about to move from Yokosuka, Japan to rural Sasebo. I have to say I CAN'T wait. We love living close to Tokyo, but moving to a slower town will benefit my boys I think!

  9. Anonymous1:35 AM

    Hi! Just moved to Sasebo, Japan with my three children. I see that you found a gymnastics club where you live. How did you find one there? I'm looking for one here, but I'm having a hard time. Two of my children are at competition level, so I'm trying to find something for them here so they won't lose their skills when we return to the U.S. Any tips on finding one would be great!