I started going to a gym to try to get into shape. To be honest, I was kind of undecided about whether I wanted to join or not, but then I learned that they have a proper onsen hot springs bath and sauna for relaxing after a workout, including a roten-buro outdoor bath, which put it over the top for me. The gym is quite nice, with modern equipment for everyone to use, including TVs built into the machines so you can watch TV while you work out. As is often the case, I find myself the only foreigner in the place. It’s not that other gaijin are that rare in Japan — 3% of our city is made up of foreigners — but it’s more like the things I do (“normal” Japanese things like going to a gym, going to a Shinto shrine to pray for good luck on New Year’s Day, taking part in school events with my kids) are less likely to be done by other foreigners living here — it frankly takes force of will to be okay with being the only gaijin in the room. The Japanese are usually big on entering a new sport activity by kakko, or style, and my wife was livid when I suggested I could work out in normal shorts and a T-shirt. No, she insisted, I had to have proper workout clothes with Nike or Adidas logos on them. (Japanese are known for spending a fortune on high-end skiwear despite not knowing how to ski, too.)
I’ve started a new workout program at a Japanese gym.