David (punching) taking part in a sparring drill during the Seiritsu Karate Club's Bunkasai demo.
Hello readers! In this update I’m going to inform you about the Bunkasai here at Seiritsu and what it was like for a foreign student, such as myself, to take part in it.
My homeroom class, 2-H, went up one floor from our normal classroom and prepared a separate room for the Bunkasai. We had about a whole week to prepare for the festival. My homeroom decided on a making waffles, calling our "restaurant" Tomommy’s waffles, named after my homeroom teacher (Mr. Tomomi Udagawa).
I thought this was a pretty good idea, if only I had some maple syrup! We also used the preparation time to decorate the room. We painted, bonded, taped, and put up all sorts of decorations to make it seem like a brick room with picnic-draped tables with pink and red hearts plastered around the room.
We all worked really hard, and during the preparation time I really got to know my classmates. I knew they were friendly, despite the shocked faces they had on my first day, but they were really getting into the conversation and trying to get to know me. It seems like everyone in the class is really close and friendly to each other, so I really didn’t feel out of place being talked to by so many different people. I also learned most of their names, nicknames and what school clubs they are in and what they like. Surprisingly I found out I have a lot in common with them, such as music, shows, activities, and so on.
Helping out for the preparation was probably the best time to make new friends and for me to really integrate myself into the group. Now every class we have together seems really fun, especially since we know we can joke with each other and say funny things while knowing what’s good to say or not. It really feels like I know them. It also helped my Japanese improve a lot and, I’m starting to learn at a much faster pace.
The Bunkasai itself was very busy, but with the help of my teachers and classmates I was able to always find out what I was doing. When I had some free time, some of the other foreign students and I went around and bought snacks, spent time talking with some of the other Japanese students and visitors, and also helped out around the school, doing whatever we could do.
Wessel and I participated in a Karate demonstration, which was really good. We got to show a little bit of what we learned and get some good shots of us in action. This was pretty important to me, as my host dad and host sister were standing by watching. After that, I guided them around the school and showed them all the different classrooms and what they were doing. Bam, Poom’s Thai friend from another school in Japan, also came to see and we toured the Bunkasai together most of the time.
After the Bunkasai was over, I spent about 2 hours cleaning around the room, putting things back, tearing things down and recycling everything we had put up for future use in other festivals and activities. We spent another hour sitting about, talking about the festival and talking with each other. In that time, I also got to know some other students from neighboring classrooms and even some members of the basketball team that were with Poom. After all of this, about twenty of my homeroom classmates and I met at a Shabu Shabu (Shabu shabu is raw meat that you cook yourself in a boiler at your table) restaurant for dinner. We all sat down at three or four different tables in the same small room and continued to discover more about each other- I might be repeating myself, but really, there is so much to talk about when you’re from the other side of the world, as well as so much to ask.
I have to say, the Bunkasai is probably going to be one of my biggest highlights of my EF year abroad. That week of preparation, the festival and dinner with my homeroom really brought everything together for me. Now I don’t feel so estranged and I feel more like a regular student here. But that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!