Sunday, October 28, 2007
My First School Festival
Most every school in Japan holds various events throughout the year known as festivals. They could be sports festivals, cultural festivals, pretty much any type of festival. The first school festival I went to ended up not even being for one of my own schools. I was invited by a local JET to attend his JHS's sports and cultural festival and I decided to check it out.

It was held over two days. Saturday was the sports festival and Sunday was the cultural festival. we arrived early on Saturday and the first scheduled event was the opening ceremonies. So we headed over to the gym and the first thing I noticed was the band practicing in the back of the gym. They were really good! Then we tried to figure out where we were supposed to sit and they ended up putting us in this row of chairs along the side of all the rest of the chairs, that NO ONE but the two of us ended up sitting in. The rest of the teachers were sitting with their homeroom classes. So yeah, that was a bit awkward, but at least we had a good view!

Opening ceremonies were interesting. Lots of speeches by what I'm sure are important people, then the kids did some skits and showed off their class flags and banners. Then each class did a little chant/song type thing and at the end of the whole shindig, they revealed this massive painting that was made up of a bunch of smaller paintings that each kid worked on. It was huge and rather impressive. Then it was off to the races!

There are four different colored teams split among the 3 different grade levels and they compete in a variety of both traditional and zany track and field events. They also do several traditional dance performances and some marching type things throughout the day as well. Events included: normal relays, pull people around on a tire relays, tug of war, huge group jump roping, the 'grab a pole' event, and the 'climb a pole' event. My favorite event was the tug of war. The rope was as thick as my arm and spanned what would have been the length of a football field.

We took a break for lunch around noon. I had brought my own lunch to eat, but the school, as they knew I was coming, kindly provided me with the same spread that all the teachers got, which was sushi, soup, and some fruit for desert. It was really nice of them, and quite tasty!

I can't remember which team won, but I didn't really care. Everyone, including me, was having a good time and that's what really matters. The next day was less about competition and more just having a good time and lighting stuff on fire. I didn't go to the morning ceremonies and presentations on Sunday, but heard it was more skits/songs. The other JET even had to do something on stage, which I'm sorry I missed. I arrived right before they were going to light the bonfires. Each class built a huge pyre and then the lit them on fire using some sort of gun power. There was a line of it going to the pyres and you got to watch this really loud and bright flash zoom towards the pyre and catch it on fire. It was really fun to watch.

Then, all the students did folk dancing around the 3 giant fires. Well, not just the students, I got dragged into it as well, but it was fun. Felt bad for some of the boys who had to dance with me. Lets just say I got some strange looks. Then, after the dancing there were some speeches and then fireworks, as no festival is complete without them!

Above and beyond attending the festivals, on Saturday night, I went up to the northern part of my city for a little welcome to the area/house warming bash with almost all the JETs in my city. We just stayed up, chatting and drinking. The apartment we were in was huge and had the most awesome bathroom I've seen since living in Japan! I was so jealous, but then it is sort of in the middle of nowhere compared to where my apartment is, so I got over it. Everyone stayed the night and then we headed home the next morning. And that was my weekend.

Labels: , , , ,

posted by am at 5:58 AM | Permalink |