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A Modern Community Center in Kurume
Price: 0 yen
I lived in Kurume for a good six months before ever visiting Erupia Community Center, despite it being a very convenient place close to where I live. E-ru means yell, but in a positive way, as in ‘cheer or support’ and Pia is Japanese English for Peer. The name of the community center is a little strange but I get the idea it’s encouraging cheering for your friends and classmates, or supporting their efforts.
The first time I visited was to substitute teach an English lesson in one of the study rooms that can be reserved for as little as 500 yen. (Note that rooms need to be reserved by students, so if you want to start a freelance lesson, you’ll have to ask your students to sign up and reserve the space.) There are also open study spaces available for free that anyone can use as long as they stay quiet. This is a great resource for someone starting out teaching freelance lessons (English or otherwise). There are rooms for yoga or exercise and art classrooms, a cosy space on the fourth floor, and a café as well. It’s one of the few modern buildings in town and is fairly comfortable although not excessively air conditioned in the open areas. There's a fancy scale that will print out your weight and BMI, plus a blood pressure tester, for a free self check-up. Japanese lessons (taught by volunteers) are available for foreigners.
Not too far from Nishitetsu Kurume station, Erupia has a good size parking lot/car park and lots of bicycle parking, which fills up quickly. It might be from all of the students on summer vacation who are forced out of their houses so their parents can have some peace and quiet. There’s a steady stream of seniors taking lessons for fun and students meeting friends to study. Depending on how busy the study areas are, this is a good option with no expectation to buy anything, compared with meeting in a café. It gets crowded during lunchtime and several people bring bento and chat with friends, so it might not be the best time to study if you’re easily distracted.