When a friend or neighbor's child starts junior or senior high school, after offering their congratulations, Japanese will invariably ask, "So, which school club did he/she join?"

Teenagers and club activities, commonly known as bukatsu or kurabu, go together as naturally in Japan as sushi and wasabi. Indeed, many members of today's older generations look back on their club activities with nostalgia.

However, something that most Japanese parents accept as a normal and desirable rite of passage in their child's development can leave foreign parents quaking in their boots at what lies ahead.