Student club activities make up an important part of student life for Japanese university students. Club activities encompass sports, cultural activities, and more. Location, eligibility, Japanese proficiency requirement, participation fee, and level of commitment also vary greatly depending on the activities and groups. Particularly in the area of sports, “circle” or “Undokai” have many differences. The following explains a little more about these differences as well as circle participation in general.
“Circle” is the usual name used to describe a group of students at a Japanese university that join together to participate in certain activities. Some circles have activities on both Komaba and Hongo Campuses, but majority of circle members at UTokyo are 1st and 2nd year undergraduates※1. There are also inter-collegiate circles (called “Inkare” in Japanese), which will include members from other universities besides UTokyo. At the beginning of April, before the matriculation ceremony, “Circle Orientation” is held on Komaba Campus. About a month after the orientation during “Shinkan” (new student recruiting period), students can visit various circles for a trial before deciding which one they want to join.
For international graduate students who study on the Hongo Campus, list of circles registered at Hongo Campus can be found in the following website. Listing of Registered Circles at UTokyo. http://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/stu01/h09_01_j.html (Japanese only)
※1 1st and 2nd year undergraduates are all based on Komaba Campus in the Meguro Ward as they belong to the College of Arts and Sciences. 3rd and 4th year undergraduates (except for those who belong to the College of Arts and Sciences) and graduate students (except for those in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences and some other graduate students) are based at Hongo Campus in the Bunkyo Ward.
●Undoikai (Athletics Foundation of the University of Tokyo)
Compared to sports circles, Undokai usually require more commitment in practice hours, mandatory competitions, etc. The student life of participants mostly revolves around their membership. Also, as opposed to a two-year participation for the majority of circle members, most Undokai members are active throughout all four undergraduate years. University matches are open for public viewing if you are interested in attending to support a UTokyo team. You can find more information on the following website http://www.undou-kai.com/club_introduction/.