Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sports Day!

Saturday, September 18th was Sports Day at my junior high school. Sports Day is a typical thing for schools in Japan. I never had anything like this when I was in school. The closest thing was Field Day in elementary school where we did relay races against our classmates. Besides being a day where the whole school plays games, they really have nothing in common. Sports Day is a very big deal. The students practiced for weeks beforehand.

All the students were split into four teams (red, blue, yellow, and green) so that each team had an equal number of boys and girls and students from each grade.

The high school band played as the students marched in. Here are all the students lined up with their teams. You can see that the school is very small!

Then the Japanese flag was raised while the Japanese anthem was played. I realized I didn't know what the Japanese anthem sounded like. It was my first time hearing it after being in Japan for six months.

That was followed by a couple speeches by the principal and vice principal. Then it was time to do the warm up exercises. It's called Rajio Taiso. This same routine is used all over Japan by schools, businesses and more. I did the exercises too but stopped to quickly take a picture.

 Here's a video from a much larger school, but it will give you the idea.

 During the summer, if I got up before 8:00, I could hear that song playing at the place across the street. I'm not really sure what it is. It's a warehouse I think.

Also, the elementary school has recently started doing this exercise every morning so I get to do it with them when I'm there.

Here's a random picture of the back of the school. 

The first event was a baton pass race. 

 The next event was really neat. The students held up a pole while another student climbed to the top. The student then dropped a weight with a rope into the pole. The rope was then hammered down into the ground.

The very last student then put a banner on top and once it was open the team was finished. 

Here are the banners from all four teams. One Piece is a popular anime. The next one is Yoshi which is just awesome. Then next is Pikachu... also awesome. :) The last one is Stitch. They love Stitch here. He's wayyyyy more popular in Japan than he ever was in the US.


Next was the Daruma race.  This was an event with the parents. It was a relay race where the students had to put on the daruma thing (and couldn't see) and the parents ran with them across the field and around a cone. It was really funny!

The jump rope competition was pretty impressive. This was a competition between the classes, rather than the colored teams.

 Here is another PTA game (yeah they really call it PTA here... one of the teachers was trying to explain to me what PTA means and she was surprised when I told her we call it PTA in America as well, lol). This game was really funny too. It was a three-legged race but they also had to put their faces in a pan of flour (I think) and get something out of it to eat. I don't know what it was though. Some of the students participated with their parents and others paired up with their siblings.

 The next game was adorable. The 3rd year students did an obstacle course race with the kindergartners. The 3rd graders guided the little kids through a course. It was really cute, but it was challenging for a couple of the students because a couple little kids started crying, haha.

Tug of war! I remember the last couple of Field Days at my elementary school where they didn't let all the students in a class participate in Tug of War because it was too dangerous. This was one of the least dangerous games of the day at this festival though!

This game looked like a lot of fun. It's kind of like tug of war. The two teams stand at opposite sides of the field. There are five poles in the middle. When the gun goes off they run to the middle and try to take the poles to their side of the field. The first team to get three poles over to their side wins.

This was another PTA event. All of the parents and siblings participated in this one. One student stood in the middle and held up a basket on a pole. The teams tried to throw as many balls in there as they could in a certain amount of time.

Next there was another baton pass race. There were several of these races so that each student got to participate.

Then it was time for lunch!

After lunch the teams performed their dance routines and the spectators got to fill in evaluation sheets to choose the winning team. I have some pictures of the dances but they are all close-up shots and so I'm not posting them here.

I saw the students practice for this next game a lot. It's very difficult so they needed a lot of practice! It's like a massive three-legged race but I don't know exactly how many feet are tied together. When one student falls it's basically a domino effect. So they have to be perfectly timed! They run across the field...

 ...then jump and land face down on cushions! It's crazy!

The next game also involved feet being tied together.  Three students stood one behind the other. Their legs were all tied together. I have pictures of this as well, but like the dance pictures, they're all close-up pictures.

I was so excited about the next game. It's called kibasen, but the English translation is called "cavalry battle." I know that some schools have quit doing this game because it's dangerous, but I was excited that my school still plays it.

Three students stand in a triangle formation while a fourth student sits up on top. They wear hats and the point of the game is to get a hat from the other team. Sometimes they knock each other down too though. It was really fun to watch and I could see how it has been banned at other schools.

 I got to participate in the next game (or maybe it came before the cavalry battle...  or even before some of the other games... I don't really remember). I don't have any pictures of it since I was also playing in it. It was a PTA game and the students paired up with a family member. I got to pair up with one of the students. Each team stood in two lines, one line of students and one line of parents. A big ball (as tall as me) was rolled to the front of the line. The students in the front tossed it into the air and the people behind it hit it to keep tossing it to the back of the line. The pair in the back of the line then rolled it to the end of the field and around some cones and then took it back to the front of the line.

I was part of the green team for this game, and we won! :) So even though I was wearing a yellow shirt I hoped that the green team would win for the rest of the day.

The last event was the final baton pass race. Then the scores for the dance were announced and the overall scores were put up. Green  won! Yay!

 There was a closing ceremony and then when it was all over the students sat with their groups and talked about their experience.

 While this was going on I wandered around to take a few more pictures. This is the gate where the students lined up before marching in to begin each game.

 Here's the back of the school.

Sports Day was a lot of fun. Even though it was on a Saturday, it was a lot of fun going to work that day. Plus, since I worked that Saturday I was given the following Friday off. Thursday was a holiday (autumnal equinox) with no school so I got a four day weekend! I went to Kanazawa, so I will have a post about that soon! :)


  1. The exercise video reminds me of the dances with dance-y music that DJ showed me that he does at his uni.

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