If you are a member of Toastmasters International anywhere in the world, then I highly recommend that you drop in and visit a fellow Toastmasters Club here in Japan. And if you aren’t a member, I recommend it anyway!
In Kanagawa Prefecture, there are an amazing 17 clubs holding meetings twice a month. If the timing is good, then contact them and arrange to give them a visit. They will welcome you with open arms, and it will be a treat for you to see how meetings are run in Japan! You can also make some friends here in Japan who will probably be happy to go out of their way to answer questions about Japanese culture, and help you with just about anything you need…in English.
Japan’s first club was chartered in 1954. There are now almost 150 clubs nationwide. Most of the clubs are English-speaking clubs, but there are also Japanese speaking clubs, and Bilingual clubs. The Bilingual clubs tend to hold one hour of the meeting in English, and one hour in Japanese. Fascinating!
I myself was a member of the Yokohama Club (YTMC) for a few years, and still attend meetings every now and then. The Yokohama club was established more than 20 years ago. It meets on Saturday afternoons (the first and third Saturday each month) usually at the Hatoba Kaikan from 2PM-4PM. Afterwards, they often go out for beer together! It’s a lot of fun. The club consists mainly of Japanese members with varying degrees of English ability. It takes a lot of guts for them to stand up and make speeches in English. I really respect and admire them for this! Many of them need to use English at work, and thus need to practice making presentations. This organization goes a long way towards helping them become successful global business people. A typical meeting will include a joke or two, four or five speeches, and evaluations of the speeches. Most clubs also have a short impromptu speech session that is challenging and extremely interesting.
I’ve included contact information and website information with this article, so as soon as you know your schedule, send them an email and get somebody to meet you at the nearest train station and bring you to their meeting place!