June 14, 2011
Is it the Olympics? No, it's the school sports day!
This is Jessica writing!
On Saturday June 4th I awoke at 5:30am to catch the Tohoku line train to Higashi Utsunomiya to attend the Seiritsu sports festival. My first surprise was that they held the festival on my precious Saturday (I do not usually attend school on Saturdays) and my second was that the sports ground was so far away, it was practically in the country side with rice fields everywhere.
When I arrived at the field the teachers and students had put up lots of tents with tarpaulins under them for each homeroom. In Australia everyone is split up randomly into different colour houses where they participate in individual activities. However in Japan it﹊s the homerooms that are put into different colour houses where the whole class participates in activities together. Also each homeroom got to design their own flag and T-shirt, what I noticed was that everyone either parodied a popular commercial logo such as coca cola, or they used their homeroom teacher as a mascot and had a picture of them on their t-shirts. On of my favorites was the ﹍Fatman﹎ t-shirt which featured a chubby batman.
For the opening ceremony each homeroom had to march to the front of the field holding their flag. I held my homeroom﹊s flag, but that﹊s probably because no one else wanted to do it. The teachers then made some speeches, played the national anthem and the school song. The whole process reminded me of the Olympics. Then we did the school exercise dance which is called ﹉Taiso﹊. Apparently every school has their own Taiso and sometimes the radio even plays music for it. The funny thing was that everyone forgot how to do it.
After that the Karate club did some Kata demonstrations and the cheer leaders did a cheer dance using music from the ﹉high school musical movies﹊ and some of the senior girls even threw people up into the air which was really cool! We didn﹊t have any cheer leaders at my school in Australia. A strange thing that I﹊ve discovered is that while Japan is famous for anime, most Japanese people prefer Disney films and don﹊t really care too much about anime which westerners have assumed.
A few days before the sports festival some people were taking down names during homeroom, fortunately enough I raised my hand at least once; though I had no idea what they were doing. Only later did I realize that they were taking down names of people participate in the events. If I knew that in advance I would have put my name down for everything.
The events that I did participate in were ﹉group jump rope﹊ and ﹉the centipede race.﹊ As the name implies each homeroom had to play jump rope together and see who could go the longest, but it didn﹊t last very long. For the ﹉Centipede race﹊ 12 people had to tie one of their feet to a rope and run together. The spots classes had to play with handicaps since all of them were extremely fit and good at teamwork.
Some of the other events included: who could throw the most balls into a basket, taking the bamboo poles before the other team does and running relays, though I may have missed a few of the other races due to waiting in the massive lunch line for half an hour. Then the brake dancing club danced to a Lady Gaga song. I feel as though I﹊ve heard more English songs, than Japanese songs since coming here.
At the end everyone lined up again, thought out homeroom got a little bit lost since the two homerooms beside us didn﹊t give us any room to fit in, and we also lost out flag for the first half of the ceremony, but other than that it was fine. Then everyone packed up together at the end. The boys keep asking why I was hanging around with them rather than with the girls, apparently in Japan boy and girls don﹊t interact with each other very much, kind of like primary school children. However being a Tomboy I find that I get along better with boy than girls so I hope they don﹊t exclude me too much.
Overall the day was pretty good, and I enjoyed all the group activities even though I was watching most of them rather than participating. If there﹊s another event like this before I go home I﹊d love to participate in more activities.