“Cherry blossoms, or sakura flowers, are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life.”
To the J1s that opened this article, hi there!
I’m Timothy from 20A11 but people usually know me as Timo :> I am a member of Writers’ Circle’s Press Wing (hence why I’m writing this right now HAHA), iGlobe (I didn’t get paid for Kaleidoscope send food pls), and lastly but definitely not the least, the Japanese Cultural Club, or JapClub/VJap as it’s more commonly known.
To give a brief introduction, JapClub is a Special Interest group in VJ, alongside the Pets and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) and the Singapore Youth Flying Club (SYFC). This means that we are not an officially recognised CCA in the traditional sense, but the plus sides are that we get to hold our sessions autonomously either online or irl, and that attendance is not compulsory if you’re not free due to your other commitments or if you’re not feeling up to going for sessions. Many of our members also have multiple CCAs, so this is not an uncommon thing to see.
JapClub is a hub for learning about Japanese culture as well as being able to make friends with like-minded individuals! We have many members that are well-versed in all kinds of Japanese culture, be it things like the language, sports, day-to-day life as well as Japanese pop culture and gaming culture!
All Most of us are very interested in anime and manga as well, so there’s honestly a thing for everyone if you’re willing to give us a shot and join us :>
If you guys would like to know more about JapClub, you are free to approach me, our Chairman Shobhit from 20S45 or our Vice-Chairman Danish from 20A14.
But enough with the shilling, it’s time for me to start telling you my story. You might be wondering whether JapClub has anything to do with all the other much more informative articles relating to JC life in here,
or whether my chairman is just holding me at gunpoint please take your finger off the trigger
My main reason for joining JapClub first and foremost was that I was a weeb, and I had heard stories about this club from seniors and friends as well. Secondly, I was also kind of hoping that I would be able to share what I personally loved about Japanese culture alongside all of the funnier and more chill stuff, which I eventually did! My love for anime didn’t lead me further into the anime rabbit hole, but instead made me realise that I simply vibed with a lot of Japanese influences in many of the hobbies I had, be it combat sports (sumo wrestling), music (J-rock/J-rap/Enka), car culture (drifting/stance culture) and even writing! (Japanese mystery novels are 14/10 please read them.)
At first, I thought that JapClub would simply be a method for me to keep in touch with what I loved whilst attempting to juggle the hustle and bustle of JC life once classes were in full swing.
But, I hesitated and held back at the start because I was still afraid of commitment.
My friends and seniors reassured me that since it was a student-interest group, it was fine if I only wanted to turn up whenever I wanted to, but I still felt bad, which was why I never actually joined JapClub.
Until Circuit Breaker hit.
Despite only spending the best part of 3 months before physical classes were suspended, I was extremely dismayed because I had grown to love the campus as well as in-person classes, with bantering about my work with teachers and classmates already being the highlights of my year. Now, with classes being limited to Home-Based Learning and online classes, I really felt that the soul of my classes were sucked out and with the monotony of the days compounding, so much so to the point where I even lost the interest in my various hobbies.
Something else that occurred was also planning for the future. What seemed like plenty of time to think about what to do for JC life in terms of CCA achievements and experiences were suddenly wiped out with CB as well as Phase 2 regulations afterwards. Pressure was beginning to build for me, since CTs were right around the corner and also because being at home just left me alone with my thoughts, I realised that I was getting more and more hung up on the future and anxiety attacks ensued.
Only then did I remember about the sessions that JapClub held, and honestly it was quite a bit of a light in what was a fairly gloomy period for me. Joining JapClub was as simple as crashing their Whatsapp chat and the Discord server on a weekday night. They held weekly sessions over Discord, and it was a tight-knit community to mess around with since we all bonded over the same things. Sessions typically involved a presentation by the exco or if any member felt like presenting something related to Japanese culture, with activities to go along with it.
The most defining feature that I felt JapClub embodied was this free-flowing nature and culture of not caring. It really felt like one of the most organic communities I’ve been in for quite some time rather than a club with rules or a CCA. Chats were just blowing up everyday about some random meme that someone posted, people looking for game partners (Genshin Impact dropped around September) or just people posting updates on the things that they were doing (mostly binging anime or manga). Outside of normal sessions, we also met up for meals or to go mess around at Kinokuniya or Don Don Donki, and we also went to the arcade to game together!
After CB ended, it helped me realise how hung-up I was on commitment and the “seriousness” of JC as a whole. Although I was much more careful with being accountable for whatever I signed up for in JC, sometimes it just feels good to go wild and let your hair loose for a bit. That was exactly what JapClub brought to the table in terms of my JC life. Sometimes it really did come to a point where I was near rolling on the floor laughing at what was being presented as well since we are allowed to be more relaxed and just shoot the wind when it came to club session times.
And I guess that was the biggest lesson that I had learnt.
“Dreams can always linger
They don’t have to be fleeting
Just remember all of the happy days
Just believe in the moment
You can get there on your own”
– Tsunomaki Watame, HololiveJP 4th Gen
That even though it may feel like we’ve all taken one step into what is basically the last lap of our educational journey and that we’ve got to buck up in the face of seeing the adult world, at the end of the day, we’re all still kids. You may start to feel more and more disillusioned with this fact with the increasing responsibilities, studies and general world things that get brought upon you as you progress through your JC lives, but I want all of you to hold on to the fact that we’re still young!
There’s still a long road ahead of us, so it doesn’t really make sense to fret so much about the impending future. Even though everyone around you will be pressuring you to start to “think more seriously about your future hurr durr” and take on more and more responsibilities (CCA leadership, nationals, uni applications, implications of grades, NS etcetera), I urge all of you to find your escape. To find something that still reminds you of who you are at the core so that you don’t lose it in all the hustle and bustle that JC brings. People aren’t lying when they say that 2 years literally fly by, and in the face of it all, it is true that you may lose what you originally had when you first came into JC. A strong part of your personality, some of your defining characteristics, or maybe even youthful innocence. That’s why, I really hope that you’ll find your escape and your safe space somewhere or somehow, and JapClub was that anchor for me as a reminder to take it easy and not get too worked up into some kinda pseudo-life or death situation with every obstacle I faced. Your escape will also be an effective reminder that whatever happens in JC isn’t going to be the “be all and end all” of things!
All in all, what I would like to say to you guys is simply to cherish your time out here in VJ! J1 was an amazing year for me even though half of it was gouged out by CB, but I hope that you guys would be able to make full use of your time here! Things may get heated, stressful and all of the above, but just remember that you’re here for a good time, not for a long time. Peace :>
Timothy Khoo, 20A11
- Takeda, E. (2014). Significance of Sakura: Cherry Blossom Traditions in Japan. Retrieved January 10, 2021, from https://festival.si.edu/blog/2014/significance-of-sakura-cherry-blossom-traditions-in-japan/#:~:text=Cherry%20blossoms%20are%20a%20symbolic,the%20blossoms%20start%20to%20fall.
Media credits (in order of appearance):
Photo by the Japanese Cultural Club, VJC