Waseda offers a rich extra-curricular life with over 700 student clubs and organizations to join. In addition to sports, social, and Japanese culture clubs and circles, Waseda University also has many volunteer opportunities for international students through the Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center.
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International Friendship Circle: Niji-no-kai
Emma Beckman, Earlham College (2012-13): Niji is an international circle, which makes it very easy for students studying abroad to join. The club offers many cultural events year round such as mochi-tsuki, hanami, watching fireworks, and nomikai. Niji also has a lounge on the main Waseda campus where students gather in their free time to eat lunch, practice Japanese or English conversation, or just to hang out. Every day was so much fun because I joined Niji-no-kai. I made many close, amazing friends, who I still keep in touch with today, and a lot of my best memories of Japan come from hanging out with my friends in Niji.
Lucas Kushner, Kalamazoo College (2012-13): I joined the juggling group at Waseda called Infinity. They are an incredibly skilled group, and some of their members win international competitions and are known around as some of the best in the world. That being said, there was another study abroad student in the group last year who had never juggled before in her life, so it is definitely possible for people of any skill level to join. In the group there were two of us that weren't Japanese, out of a group of roughly 70 students. Needless to say that being a part of this group was some of the greatest practice in Japanese that I had during my time in Tokyo. In terms of club fees, there really aren't any! The only thing is that you need to buy your own juggling equipment (there is a juggling store just a 10 minute ride away from Takadanobaba), but if you're a beginner they will let you borrow somebody's until you get some.
Heather Simpson, Hope College (2012-13): The Zazen-kai meets every Thursday and is a good group to join if you are interested in meditating on a regular basis. Emphasis is on sitting in full lotus and breathing. I recommend meeting with someone in the group to get more information before joining. Group members are nice and there isn’t pressure to go every week.
Kubra Kasikci, Earlham College (2012-13): I was a member of Waseda’s kendo club for a year. The group meets for practice on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday from 7:00-9:00pm in the Shinjuku Sports Center, about a 10 or 15 minute walk from campus. There are about 50-60 members, which includes 5-6 exchange students. In the beginning, you can borrow a shinai (bamboo sword) for free, but if you decide to join you will need to buy your own, which costs about 3,000 yen. Additional costs include kedo clothing (10,000-15,000 yen) and the club fee (10,000 yen). The members are extremely kind, and anyone can join regardless of experience. It’s also nice that you can go as much or as little as you like.
Photography Circle: Scarade
Alex Pianetta, Earlham College (2011-12): Scarade is a photography circle located on the Toyama Campus. They organize events like social gatherings, a camera-buying tour, camping trips, and organize multiple photo exhibitions featuring members' photography. They were very welcoming of me as an exchange student, and it was very nice being in a smaller club, as I got to know people better than in larger ones.
Mountain Club: Yama-no-kai
Weelic Chong, Oberlin College (2013-14): I climbed Tanigawa mountain range in Gunma Prefecture with the 山の会. This club doesn't meet outside of climbing events. What I liked about the club is that we always have onsen after the climb which gets rid of all the sweat and stickiness. The OB (old boys, which means alumni of the club) are mostly in their 60s, and they are still active in the club. I find that quirky, but talking to them was actually how I got to know about the club and why I ended up joining.In the picture we are climbing a part of the mountain which looks crazy but its not that bad because we aren't climbing up the slope, but along it. The part where we scale rocks to get to this place is a bit scary though. It was steep; almost like indoor rock climbing but with no ropes.