How do Japanese Club Activities Foster Student Growth?

In Japan, schools offer special extracurricular activities known as “bukatsu,” which take place after school, on weekends, and even during vacations. These clubs aren’t just for high school and university students; middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools have them too. In this article, we will find out why “bukatsu” or “club activities” is an essential part of Japanese education and student life. 

Participation in Club Activities

Students in Japan can join sports clubs or cultural clubs. They can choose many different kinds of activities depending on their interests.


Source: Made by Shin Edupower based on Japan Sports Agency’s Survey


92% of junior high school students and 81% of high school students participate in one or more club activities in Japan. From the survey, we can see that sports clubs are very popular among students compared to cultural clubs. On the other hand, there was few percentage of students who belong to both sports and cultural clubs or multiple clubs. In Japanese schools, it is quite common to participate in only one club throughout the school year. It is often said that the reason for this is schools sometimes do not allow students to belong to multiple clubs since they have concerns that students may be not able to focus on study. Moreover, most clubs have practice or meetings on multiple days in a week. Therefore, students may have to miss some activities. 


Popular Club Activities

Here are the popular sports and cultural club activities in Japan.


Sports Clubs 

There are wide variety of sports clubs in Japanese schools. Let’s see popular clubs among students.


  • Top 10 Popular Sports among government Junior high school students

  1. Soft tennis (14.8%)
  2. Basketball (14.1%)
  3. Table tennis (12.3%)
  4. Volleyball (10.3%)
  5. Baseball (9.4%)
  6. Soccer (9.0%)
  7. Track and field (8.8%)
  8. Badminton (6.1%)
  9. Kendo (4.2%)
  10. Soft ball (1.7%)


  • Top 10 Popular Sports Clubs among government Senior high school students

  1. Basketball (10.8%)
  2. Soccer (10.5%)
  3. Baseball (10.5%)
  4. Badminton (8.3%)
  5. Volleyball (8.1%)
  6. Track and field (8.1%)
  7. Soft tennis (6.8%)
  8. Tennis (5.8%)
  9. Table tennis (5.5%)
  10. Kyudo (5.4%)

Kendo and Kyudo are Japanese traditional martial arts.


Source: Report on the survey of club activities (2017) published by Japan Sports Agency


Cultural Clubs

Unlike the sports clubs whose popularity did not have much difference, brass band club is much more popular than other activities among cultural clubs in government Junior high schools. However, senior high school students belong to various cultural clubs. It is because senior high school normally have more varieties of cultural clubs.


  • Top 10 Popular Cultural Clubs among government Junior high school students

  1. Brass band (47.2%)
  2. Arts and crafts (21.5%)
  3. Chorus (4.5%)
  4. PC (3.6%)
  5. Natural Science (2.2%)
  6. Cooking (1.6%)
  7. Tea ceremony (1.3%)
  8. Literature (1.1%)
  9. Broadcasting (1.1%)
  10. Instrumental Music/Orchestra (1.0%)


  • Top 10 Popular Cultural Clubs among government Senior high school students

  1. Brass band (17.6%)
  2. Arts and crafts (7.1%)
  3. Tea ceremony (6.4%)
  4. Japanese calligraphy (5.7%)
  5. Band (5.5%)
  6. Photography (4.6%)
  7. Cooking (4.6%)
  8. Volunteer (4.2%)
  9. PC (3.5%)
  10. Drama (3.3%)

Source: Report on the survey of club activities (2017) published by Japan Sports Agency


Why Does Japanese Schools Have Club Activities?

More and more students enroll in club activities, but why do they participate in them?

Both cultural and sports club activities in schools not only aim to improve their skills but also have significant educational meaning as they provide diverse learning opportunities for students. Through interaction with students of different ages and the construction of favorable relationships between students and teachers, it contributes to the improvement of:

  1. learning motivation
  2. self-affirmation
  3. sense of responsibility
  4. sense of solidarity

There is much research that proves the effects of club activity on students’ better academic performance. It is often said that the harder students participate in club activities, the more motivation they get. These effects are widely acknowledged by parents as well, so the majority of them usually agree with their children to belong to club activities. 

Also, those club activities are attended by students from multiple grades. Even within the same grade, students from different sections participate with different purposes and skill levels. Through these activities, students will develop leadership and team-building skills.


Schools in Japan offer opportunities to participate in club activities which are typically held during after-school hours, weekends, and even school vacations. These clubs are not limited to high schools and universities but also exist in middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools. Students in Japan can join sports clubs or cultural clubs and choose from a variety of activities based on their interests.

Club activities in Japan play a significant role in improving students’ motivation for learning, fostering a sense of responsibility and solidarity, and contributing to their overall development. These activities provide diverse learning opportunities and facilitate positive relationships between students and teachers. 

Overall, club activities in Japan are considered an essential part of school education, promoting various competencies and abilities among students.


For those who want to know more about Japanese education

Shin Edupower provides programs that enable online exchange and collaboration between schools in India and Japan, as well as study tours to Japan for educators and students. If you would like to know more about education in Japan, please feel free to contact us here.

Last Updated on 2024-07-03