“So…what’re we doing today?” The quizzical stares, the deer-in-the-headlight eyes, always haunt me at some of the meetings I held my first few attempts at creating a cool club meeting. (If you’re looking for ideas that aren’t in person, see the post “COVID-19: Can Anime Clubs Survive?“)
To avoid disastrous moments of awkward silence and “let’s get out of here” whispers, here are a few ideas you and your officers can do:
Birthday Race – Make two teams. Within a time limit, the members must make a line sorted by birth dates. The team to make the line first is the winner.
Meishi or Business Card Game – Make pairs. Each pair will get a 3 cards. They’ll write their names on the cards. On the back of each card are stamps. Each stamp is worth different points. The members don’t know how much each stamp is worth until the end of the activity. Members will first introduce their friends (“This is Amy”). One person from each pair will janken or play Rock-Paper-Scissor. The winners will take one of the losers’ cards. Members who lose all of their cards must sit down. Once most of the class has sat down, the activity should end. Show the members the points per stamp. The pair with the most points wins.
Pass the Present – Wrap a small present with 6 to 10 layers of wrapping paper or newspaper. Play a Japanese song as the members pass the present around. When the music stops, the member holding the present must answer a question before unwrapping a layer. The game ends when someone finally unwraps the last layer and claims the present.
Suguroku – Give each member a worksheet. The members will play janken or Rock-Paper-Scissor with each other. The winner will become A. The loser will become B. The loser must answer the winner’s question and sign in the appropriate box. Now the winner can go forward by one box.
Truth or Lie – Members will say or write 3 things about themselves. Only 1 of the 3 statements will be a lie. The other members will guess which is a lie.
Fruits Basket – The members will sit in a big circle. One chair will be removed, so one person will stand in the middle of the circle. The member in the center of the circle will say a statement about themselves (“I am sixteen years old”). If any of the sitting members can say the same thing about themselves (“I’m sixteen years old too”), they will change seats. When the moderator of the game says “Fruits Basket”, everyone will change seats.
The Hot Seat / Taboo – Members will split into teams. Each team will pick a new “hot seat” person. The “hot seat” person will sit in a chair facing their team. The “hot seat” person can’t see the board. The team will pick a category (ex: Japanese Food, Shoujo Anime). There are 10 words in each category (Shoujo Anime might have High School Debut, Ouran High School Host Club, Skip Beat, Honey x Clover, Otomen, Kimi ni Todoke, Lovely Complex, Peach Girl, NANA, Sailor Moon). The team can’t say any of the words in the category. They can only give hints to the word. Give them a time limit. If the “hot seat” person can say the words on the board within the time limit, they get one point per word.
Karuta– Make many cards with Japan-related pictures (kimono, chopsticks, rice, sushi, sashimi). Put the members in small groups. Each group will get a set of the cards and they will spread them out evenly on the tables. The caller (whomever is calling out the Japanese words) will say the words in Japanese. The members must hit the correct picture card to get a point. The member with the most picture cards is the winner.
Ninja – This game has the same rules as Red Light, Green Light.
Shiritori – One person says or writes a title or word from an anime, manga, Japanese video game, song, or movie. The next person will say or write a word starting with the last letter from the first person. For example, if Person A says “Dragon Ball”, Person B will say a word starting with L (Love Hina, Legal Drug, Loveless).
Decorate paper fans.
Do a manga or anime swap.
Do a manzai, or stand-up comedy, day.
Do Japanese calligraphy. Get some Japanese calligraphy brushes, inks, and papers and learn to write basic kanji (calligraphy) or your names.
Do Japanese story-telling, or rakugo. You can watch a video, bring in a rakugo artist, or you can do it yourselves (think of it as funny campfire tales).
Have a haiku contest or haiku reading day.
Knit or crochet stuffed animals or mascots (also known as amigurumi).
Learn the borrowed Japanese words used in English.
Learn the dance steps to popular songs from artists like Vocaloid, AKB48, and ARASHI.
Look up popular Japanese fashions from Harajuku, Tokyo, and Shinjuku.
Make buttons with your favorite anime, manga, or Japanese characters.
Make felt animals or mascots.
Make hanging paper koi.
Make keychains with your favorite anime, manga, or Japanese characters.
Make paper lanterns.
Make T-shirts of favorite anime, manga, or Japanese characters.
Make your Japanese name. Find the meaning of your name in Japanese or make up your own Japanese name. Remember, the kanji, or Chinese characters, are important to the meaning of your Japanese name.
Origami cranes are great for cheering up any depressive souls. Japanese people usually make origami cranes when someone’s in the hospital. Did you know 1,000 cranes equals a wish?
Play Inaka Basketball.
Play Sengoku. This is an old conquest game played in Japan. You will need a map of Japan with the prefectures clearly defined and a lot of magnets in three different colors. Put the members into teams of three. Each team will pick a Japanese unifier (Nobunaga, Toyotomi, or Tokugawa) and a color as their team name and “armies”. Pick a prefecture. One person from each team will stand up. The moderator will ask an anime- or Japan-related question. The first person to raise their hand and get the answer right wins the prefecture. The team who “conquers” the most prefectures is the game winner.
Play Shingo, or the Japanese chess.
Scavenger Hunt – Make a list of things to find using Japanese words.
Visit the Japanese Consulate in your area.
Watch an anime or Japanese movie. Before watching the video, please get the anime company’s screening permission.
Make an anime radio show or podcast.
Make an anime music video.
Guess that Anime Opener/Closer. Members will make teams. They will choose a category (ex: Shoujo Anime, Shounen Anime). The moderator will play an opening or closing song from an anime. Members will guess what anime it’s from.