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Jan 2004
Issue 044

KS Classifieds combined with Kansai Scene this issue!

Kobe Regatta
& Athletic Club

Hidden Sports Oasis in Kobe

Those that work hard often like to play hard as well. And, while going to your local fitness club for an hour or two on the exercise bike might burn off a few excess takoyaki, there are more interesting ways to enjoy some good old fashioned physical activity — in the form of organized sports play — if one knows where to look.

Both long-term foreign residents and recent arrivals often make the in-correct assumption that there are no places to play competitive sports outside of the Japanese organizations.

Located about a 5-minute walk from JR Sannomiya station, Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, also known as the KR&AC, is the longest standing sports club in Japan. For 133 years the KR&AC has served as an “oasis for the inter-national community in Kansai, offering its members a range of sporting and social activities including football, rugby, tennis, hockey, cricket, softball, badminton and darts. The club is valued by its members as a welcome escape from the pressures of life in Japan.”

The impressive variety of sports hosted by the club should inspire all but the most unrepentant tatami-potato. Fans of soccer, rugby, field hockey, tennis, cricket, and even badminton will find a great place to meet like-minded players of all skill levels. Nor should one be deterred by the fact that it is a members-only club; their guidelines help them maintain a healthy diversity of members, where people are comfortable and can contribute positively to the club’s atmosphere.

“The KR&AC,” says vice president Julian Ehrhardt “is a club driven by its membership base of all nationaliti-es and ages residing in the Kansai region.”

Membership guidelines require that you be recommended (proposed) by a current member, and subsequently approved by the membership committee. Incidentally, while a limited member-ship is available to Japanese nationals, full membership status is available only to foreign-ers. The initiation fee is ¥30,000, with a monthly fee of ¥12,500. Guests are allowed to use the club twice.

Beyond organized sports activities, one of the purposes of the club is to serve as a respite where foreigners can feel at home, away from home. To that end, their facilities include not only playing fields (including a full sized football pitch), courts (four clay tennis courts and a tennis pavilion), gear and uniforms, but also a club house with a restaurant, two bars and a very comfortable lounge, with a large-screen television.

Adjacent to this is a room for pool and darts. Care has been taken to maintain the welcoming atmosphere of being among friends and counterparts. The restaurant offers no small delight with its authentic western fare — thick hamburgers, hearty fish and chips, sandwiches and other favorites not easily found in our host country. As noted on KR&AC‘s informative website, “Members come together in the club house and its generous surroundings.” The club house also has an event space and meeting rooms, which are great resources for members who want to hold private functions and other organized activities.

In addition to the sports already mention-ed, the club also offers other activities for health and fitness. One of these is Pilates. Pilates ‘is a method which aims to create a balance in the body. Many forms of exercise create tightening of certain muscles while overstretching others. The Pilates Training works to correct this imbalance,” their site says. The club offers the class on Mondays (see the website for details).

Additionally, KR&AC offers a Tai Chi class, led by Alexandre Malet. Tai Chi is an ancient art form combining deep breathing, motion and stretching for spiritual and physical fitness.
It has become extremely popular worldwide, and the class rounds out a diverse selection of fitness activities at the club.

While the club house atmosphere is decidedly relaxed, low-key and friendly, KR&AC’s sports teams practice to play at
a competitive level — they play against Japanese teams as well as those of other similar clubs. The regular game and match schedules indicate the level of seriousness, intensity and challenge members expect from an organized sport club. However, the fundamental sense of enjoyment through competition seems to be the organization’s guiding principle.

There are currently about 400 KR&AC members – rolls have decreased over the last few years as has the number of long-stay foreign residents in Japan. However the club remains vital, and through the efforts of the current leadership in increasing promotion to the regional foreign community, they expect membership rolls to increase over the next year.

For those who were heavily involved in sports back home, but have become sloth-like and terminally unmotivated in your new country, you are officially out of excuses.
Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club’s grounds also house a beer garden, children's play area and a parking lot for members.

Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club
1-20, 2-chome, Hachiman-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe
Z 078-231-2271 • Fax: 078-221-5702
Email: [email protected]www.krac.org

Text: HWJ • Photos: KRAC


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