Chang won Lee: Ultimate Frisbee Circle – Breeze

I originally planned on learning kyudo (Japanese archery) for my community involvement project, but ultimately decided to join Kyoto University’ ultimate frisbee club “Breeze” in hopes that this intramural sports circle would provide more opportunities for conversation with Japanese students (I definitely needed the exercise as well). Reflecting back on the semester that flashed by, this proved to be a great choice; I met wonderful people, improved my Japanese speaking, and learned more about Japanese culture. Though of course, this experience was not without its challenges.

A cultural difference I quickly realized was the attitude towards intramurals in Japanese universities. Unlike the more light-hearted and playful mood that surrounds the activities of US intramural clubs, Breeze’s practices were in comparison carefully regimented and serious. Each practice, all members performed basic training exercises then split into the men and women’s team to work on team-specific drills and exercises. With every practice matches followed a round of discussion in which the senior members taught junior members the finer points of the game. While this approach to intramural sports did not mean the team was strictly competitive, the members’ attitudes made the purpose clear that the practice was not solely to have fun. Hence, my lack of experience became the biggest obstacle that inhibited my involvement within Breeze. Even freshmen players, with already five months of practice under their belt, had developed into skilled players while I still had to learn the basics. Due to this skill gap, I was unable to participate in practice matches and at times practiced separate from the main group of members.

While I could not fully integrate myself into the activities of Breeze and its members, joining Breeze was a wonderful experience as this provided plenty of opportunities to practice my Japanese speaking skills. Breeze has over 30 members and there were always opportunities to engage in quick conversations with different members. Though, I became particularly closer with the managers for the men’s team of Breeze. My exclusion from practice matches actually contained its upside as this provided lengthy windows of time that I could fill by chatting with the team managers. These conversations undoubtedly led to the most memorable conversations during my time at Breeze. In one conversation, the manager and I discussed possible reasons why the system of day light savings was not used in Japan. Of course, as with all conversation topics that entered a realm that required terms outside the commonly used, everyday vocab, this conversation inevitably led to some use of the dictionary and hand gestures. In the end, my time in Breeze allowed me to further increase my knowledge of Japanese culture and improved my speaking skills. I even acquired another unexpected skill: remembering Japanese names (which I probably learned a bit too late).

While short, Breeze was indeed a memorable experience; the club is filled with nice, sincere people and I greatly enjoyed the conversations I shared with them. I even developed a greater interest for the game of ultimate frisbee and plan to join an ultimate frisbee club at Penn once I return to the United States.

2 thoughts on “Chang won Lee: Ultimate Frisbee Circle – Breeze

  1. Ultimate Frisbee, to my knowledge, is fun yet hard! It seems that similar to other students in KCJS, you have had a difficult time trying to find the rhythm of Japanese intramural sports circle. Would you call this culture shock? Somehow I feel that Japanese students have it easier on their academic classes, but they make up for it in their sports/circles and part time jobs. It seems to me that the Japanese system have different priorities. But, you have made effort to make use of your time with the club members, which I think is important and you have fulfilled a goal of CIP. Were you able to join any activities with them outside of the regular practice times? Where was practice?

  2. I guess you can say it was a little bit of culture shock. I unfortunately was not able to meet anyone outside the regular practice. The practice area is pretty close by. The location is called Izumoji Grounds and it is right by Kuramaguchi Station which is just a couple of stops north from Imadegawa.