OSAKA — In the years following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when Japan ended nearly 2 1/2 centuries of isolation, Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe in particular saw a large influx of Western men in uniform, merchants, teachers and clerics.

One of the first things many did upon arriving in Japan was make contact with fellow expatriates at social clubs modeled after those in Europe and the United States. Members could find food and drinks like those at home, catch up on news from outside Japan and take in a host of activities ranging from dancing to billiards to tennis and squash.

Today these clubs, many with more than a century of history, face a variety of challenges to attract and keep members.