Circles and Japanese School Life

Japanese School life offers ample opportunities to discover your inner passions. Japanese school clubs and circles provide students with a perfect platform to pursue them. There are sports circles, music circles, art circles, science circles and so on. You can even start your own circle if you want to. Whatever your interest might be, there is a circle for you and they organize several activities all year round for students to participate. These activities can really help your personal growth. Moreover the opportunity to interact with other Japanese students in an intimate environment helps you build a deeper understanding of the complex Japanese society, an asset vital to appreciate and enjoy life in Japan.

How I joined my circle

Students at the University of Tokyo are very passionate about their circles. On the very first day of University, the entire campus is covered in circle pamphlets and all the members trying to recruit newly entered freshmen into their circle. The sheer number of circles trying to recruit you, and all the choices you have can be quite overwhelming indeed. The drama circles, the soccer circles, the comedy circle, music circle – I wanted to join them all. Among them all, the one that enticed me the most was the rock music circle. I have always been a Rock music fanatic and always wanted to play in a band. So, I was really looking forward to playing in one when I joined the university. There were about four rock music circles in University and I didn’t know which to choose. Ultimately, I joined the BR circle that were covering most of the bands that I loved.

My Experience

My circle life has so far been the highlight of my school life. It is everything I expected  and more. So far I have covered bands like Nirvana, Radiohead and Oasis (all the bands I love) in the several live shows we have annually. I was quite anxious about playing live before joining the circle as I had never played live before and was still a beginner in guitar. All my anxiety faded away as soon as I joined the circle. Most of the freshmen were beginners like me. At the same time, all the seniors were so motivating. Everyone was just trying to enjoy the experience of playing music together. This spirit of enjoying your passion together was very calming and encouraging at the same time. The spirit of collective growth, which is the soul of Japanese club life not only helped me overcome all my anxiety but has also spurred my personal growth.

University student playing in school circle band

Circle life also helped me to learn compassion and fraternity, virtues that symbolize Japanese society. As a part of the circle, I learned to be more considerate towards others rather than just pursuing my own desires. Everyone has a wide variety of preference of music in my circle. Everyone might not like the same band, and in some cases they might not even have heard of some artists. So, whenever we are forming a band to perform live, we can not just limit ourselves to our own preferences. When I wanted to perform a band, there were instances when the bassist or the drummer had never heard of the band before, and there are instances when I had to sing songs that I had never heard before too. This sense of mutual cooperation is the foundation of circle life and the reason circle life play such an important role in one’s individual growth.

Meeting People

There is a reason why people in Japan value their experience in university circle so highly. You get the opportunity to meet with some truly interesting people and create unforgettable memories in a very intimate setting. Through my circle, I was able to meet so many people who were as passionate about music as I am. Whenever we can, we share our experiences on music and how it has shaped our lives. Especially as a foreign student, learning about the lives and experiences of Japanese people was a very fascinating for me. I got to learn so much about Japan and Japanese society through my circle. At the same time I was also able to make some really close friends too. With a busy school life, finding people with similar passions and creating such intimate bonds can be quite a struggle.  I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of such an warm and friendly circle.


Being a part of a music circle has added a completely new dimension to my life. Not only was I able to pursue my passion, but I was also able to grow as an individual. After a year, I can now say that I understand and appreciate Japan much deeply, and I have to thank my circle for that.