Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Boys of Summer

Schools in Japan have Sports Festivals, or Sports Day, and most of my schools have them around this time of year. The days are still blazingly hot, but the nights are showing signs of Fall by cooling off. Sports Day is a nice sendoff for Summer and way to try to enjoy the heat.
Students form teams and compete against one another in various events. Usually there's races and relays, along with tug-of-war. Last weekend I attended my main school's Sports Day, and since it's such a big school (almost 400 students), events are broken down into boys' and girls' events. For example, boys do the traditional tug-of-war with the rope, and the girls do a form of it where they race to pick up 6 ft. long pipes and carry them to their team's side. Elementary schools do something similar, but with tires instead. Often, the last unclaimed pipe/tire becomes a chaotic battle as every member tries to help drag it to their team's side, and usually time runs out before the last point is claimed.
Sometimes students perform a dance too. My girl students wear happi (Japanese robe/vests) and do both a traditional Japanese dance and then a westernized number. 

(Just to warn you, these pictures are blurry because 1. Keepin' people anonymous, and 2. I liked playing with my blurry camera option.)

Obstacle courses are popular events, and this year each grade had a different task to do in their race. 1st years had to crowd 5 people into a hula hoop and run together. 2nd years had to form a line and pass exercise balls behind them to their teammates. 3rd years always do a 3-legged race.... but instead of 2 people, an entire homeroom class runs together to the other side. Now that is some serious teamwork, and it's tough not to get out of sync and fall. They did very well this year. 

There was also a girl's relay where 4 people at a time carried the above-mentioned long pipes and had to twist and turn around cones.
Boys also have a time-honored tradition of a battle game called "kibasen," where 1 student is lifted by two others to form a knight on a horse. Each knight has a cap, and the teams battle to knock off the opposing cavalry's caps. It reminds me a bit of the "chicken fights" we had as kids in the pool.
Another big tradition is "kumitaiso," which is gymnastics. This is one of my favorites, because I like seeing my students form tall pyramids and towers using their strength.

I've felt reminiscent of Field Day in elementary school where we did obstacle courses, races, and my all time favorite, the parachute.
It's been fun, Summer, but now I'm ready for Fall!

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