The Best Communities to Enrich Your Life In Japan
Living abroad has its unique share of challenges—yet being far from home doesn’t need to mean feeling alone.
The desire for belonging has been widely studied in relation to life satisfaction and personal well-being. When we have community support, we feel less stress and gain a bolstered ability to cope with life’s challenges. Conversely, when we feel lacking in support, we are more susceptible to depression and anxiety.
Even if socializing is not your thing, the right community could make a marked difference in your quality of life. Today, we have selected the top international communities in Japan that can enrich your life by providing you with new opportunities and joyful experiences.
Founded in 1928, the Tokyo American Club has been serving the international community for over 90 years. The club’s physical facilities are world-class and include a roof-top pool, full-size gym, childcare center, spa, and bowling alley. In 2018, it appeared in Platinum City Clubs of the World’s top-100 list, but the stellar facilities are not the only reason why the Tokyo American Club is a haven.
The club, located in Minato-ku, is a gathering point for Tokyo’s international community with regular festivities, community events and celebrations, recreational activities, and cultural classes and courses. There are fitness programs, a Book Lovers’ Group, the Toastmasters Club, enrichment courses, and many other events that will invite you into the heart of Tokyo’s bustling and active international social scene, with close to 4,000 multi-national members. Learn about membership opportunities here.
HackerNews reader? Techie enthusiast? Startup entrepreneur? This one is for you. HackerNews Tokyo coordinates meetups for startup entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts in Tokyo, catering to anyone interested in business and technology, local small business owners, startup founders, and people thinking of building startups. (Organized by the founders of MakeLeaps, an invoicing software that won the Good Design Award in 2019.)
Monthly meetups in downtown Tokyo allow attendees to share what they are working on in the startup or tech-field, bounce ideas around, and deliver an opportunity to network with others in adjacent industries and with similar interests. There are other startup meetups in Tokyo, but this is the primary English-speaking one for techies. Their slack channel provides details of upcoming events and is the main space to hang out and talk shop. Join here.
If you were in your high school’s glee club or always loved improv and comedy sketches but never had a chance to indulge before, Pirates of Tokyo Bay is worth a visit in your exploration of Japan’s standup comedy scene. This is an improvisational group performing in English and Japanese online and at live events. Catch them online here. And the live show is monthly in Ebisu at What The Dickens.
The Pirates of Tokyo Bay also provide workshops and training for clients like Google, the US Embassy, Association for Women in Finance, Gengo, and the Australian Society of Tokyo, with a focus on building communication and problem-solving skills. Their live shows are different each time they perform, tailoring it to the audience’s suggestions. If you are looking for a little more laughter in your life, this is a shortcut to the good stuff.
Business In Japan first started as a LinkedIn Group in 2008 but has since expanded to include the Business In Japan website, where contributors blog on creating and managing a Japan-based business and other relevant subjects. The LinkedIn Group has over 60,000 members and is an active space where members post on a wide range of business topics.
This community for business owners, startups, entrepreneurs, and industry experts in Japan hosts regular webinars on specific themes to provide value for Japan-based entrepreneurs and business owners by interviewing specialists in Japan. Other networking events allow members to connect around chosen monthly themes. Stop by if you are looking for a mentor or have a question about the ins and outs of doing business in Japan.
The Tokyo Ebisu Book Club has 1,600+ members on Meetup and is ideal for vetting future friends through their taste in books. Kidding aside, if you have been looking for fellow bookworms to discuss books with, share reading lists, or discuss favorite book haunts in Tokyo—you might find a great book friend here.
Members read a chosen book before the monthly book club meetup, often held at the FooTNiK pub in Ebisu. (Some of the book club discussions are held on Zoom.) On the book club meetup day, a list of questions is sometimes referred to, but, mostly, people have a lot to say. Meetups are on the third Monday of every month. Upcoming book titles are posted well in advance on the book club’s Meetup page, so you have plenty of time to read before the event date.
Established in 1868, the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club is the oldest of its kind in Japan. Western sports arrived in Japan primarily through Yokohama’s port, and for 150 years the club has continued to provide the same rich sporting and social environment for the international community.
From cricket, baseball, golf, rugby, volleyball, tennis, squash, and more, this country club is a welcoming spot to gather with friends or to make new friendships over a shared love of your preferred sport. The sporting facilities include a full-size all-weather pitch, an open-air swimming pool, a bowling alley, and a playground for kids. With personal trainers and dining options, the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club is a warm and refreshing retreat from work before the next week begins.
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