& 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 clubs 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&ACs 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
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&ACs sports teams practice to
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 organizations
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 Clubs 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