Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sports Day

In Japan we say that Autumn is the time for reading, eating and sports and by the calendar, October 10 is the official Sports Day in Japan. Probably for that reason, October is the month that schools, kindergartens and neighborhood schedule their Sports Days. This weekend I was invited to the neighborhood elementary school Sports Day events. I know quite a lot of the kids who go there because a few of them come to English and I see a lot of them when I do crosswalk duty in the mornings, so even though my own kids are not around I attended and took lots of pictures.

Sports Days are mini Olympics with lots of class events and dances performed etc. The school ground is decorated with flags and banners and a lot of work goes into preparing for this biggest event of the school year. The mayor will send a telegram, some politicians make the rounds and give speeches, the principal gives a speech, as well as a couple 6th graders pledging fair sportsmanship and effort. All the parents and grandparents attend and make huge picnic lunches to enjoy during lunch break and there are even booths set up by vendors selling cotton candy, snow cones, and grilled squid. A big festival for all! There were too many events for me to report on all of them but here a couple of my favorites.

There was the Giant Ball Race where the 1st graders rolled a ball taller than themselves around a post and relayed it back to their team. Three or four kids were trying to control their ball and of course couldn't see where they were going or their teammanship would go haywire and they would be rolling into the surrounding audience. Great fun for all!

Another event was the Bamboo Pull where the teams try to collect the most bamboo poles for their side. Sort of like a tug-o-war except the kids tug on poles and as each pole gets taken to the team line, all the members run to help pull the next pole until you've got loads of kids from both teams trying to get the last few poles to their side. That was quite exciting.

There was also a wonderful traditional dance performed by the 4th graders and the highlight was the little happi coats that the parents had been asked to decorate to make them personal. That was wonderful to see and of course I'm always partial to hand work so I enjoyed seeing how creative the mothers were. Some kids had their names appliqued in felt to the backs of the happis, some had designs and spangles. I wish I had been asked to make something like that when my kids were in school. I probably would have spent weeks working on it! ( A patchwork happi coat?)

And my absolute favorite event is the Kumi Taiso performed by the 5th and 6th graders. This starts out with each child doing some gymnastic position alone and then gradually two kids will perform together, then three, then five until there were about 20 to 25 kids forming pyramids and acrobatic positions. It is actually quite moving to see all these kids moving together in rhythm by a signal from a teacher's whistle.

Anybody want to join a three legged race?


QuiltingFitzy said...

This Westerner has to laugh. "selling cotton candy, snow cones and SQUID!" Guess it is like fried chicken here, lol.

I love seeing kids in uniform. I hated having to wear our one-piece gymsuits back in the day, but they made SO much sense.

Tanya, thanks again for sharing.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Awesome, great post. Happy Sports Day! I am amazed at the teamwork demonstrated and I just love those Happi coats, too.

Quilt Pixie said...

love the large ball for first graders. Sounds like a great fun day for everyone. As the kids get older it seems their activities become more planned and structured. Is that true? do they too get just "play" games as well?

anne bebbington said...

I love the photo of the littlies pushing round that enormous ball - looks like children making the bottom half of a giant snowball, and the children making the pyramid are impressive

Laurie Ann said...

I remember the second year we hosted our Japanese students, they did some pyramids at the graduation ceremony. I thought the program coordinator was going to faint. She had no idea they were going to do that and was afraid they would fall. Of course they didn't. But I've never seen that at a graduation ceremony since! :)

Shelina said...

This is amazing, what a fun festival! Here with our obesity rates being what they are, I think they should do fun things like that more often. Here most of our events are the vendor things, where you walk by the booths and see what there is to see. Sure there is field day at the end of the school year, but only elementary schools do that, and it isn't as big a deal.

H K said...

Dear Mrs Watanabe,


I am Kian, from Malaysia. I came across your blog on the website, especially the Bible verses that you coded on the blog. It is from the book of Ecclesiastes 9:10. I am also interested in craft work, and was able to do some mini projects at a patchwork or quilting shop about 2 years ago, that time I taught in Singapore. Now I am working in Penang, Malaysia, with a local Church, as a youth worker. Quilting and Patchwork have been my interest for long, I kept quite a few copies of Quilting and Patchwork books, but it seemed difficult for me to learn myself from book without proper guidance. I am thinking to attend some short term courses, go that I can have a good start. Do you think there are schools or colleges in Japan offering such courses? Will you able to give me the contacts? I tried to serch on internet, but unfortunately I couldn't get any info, because I didn't know Japanese. I learnt a little bit of Japanese, many years ago in University. I hope you will be able to help me.

Thank you very much. Looking forward in receiving your reply.

H Kian