Being involved in the local community was one of my main goals when I arrived in Japan. One of the best ways to discover what was going on in my town was to walk around after work and listen for: the drum beats of the local taiko (Japanese drum) group, the loud yells of the kendo (Japanese fencing) class, or a gathering of old bicycles outside the local community center which indicated the yoga class was on.
One of my favorite activities so far has been my karate class. As I'm a complete beginner, I was allocated a space in the junior class. Each week I practice "basic training" with ten children under the age of twelve. One class we were asked to do high kicks and as I'm 175cm tall, I could kick my leg right over their heads. When this happened they asked me to repeat the action again and again, each time they had a stunned look on their face.
The children make me laugh a lot during class however I have to try to restrain my laughter because my teacher is quite serious. After initially being a bit scared of him, I realized that he is very friendly. Rather than buying all new karate gear he offered to let me borrow one of his spare suits. He even let's me practice with a blue belt on so I don't look so silly in front of the kids.
April Morley JET 2006-2007 Tome, Miyagi Prefecture