Last week was sports day (undo kai) at Isurgi Elementary. If I recall correctly our sports day was on the back lawn of Brampton Abbotts village hall, about 60 kids in total, all lining up to compete in egg & spoon, three legged and the sack race. Mum?
Boy, this couldn’t be more different. Parents, grandparents , aunties & uncles arrive in hoards armed with picnic hampers, blankets, umbrellas for the shade and their professional Nikon D60’s (come on, they’re Japanese!)
The day (yes an entire day devoted to the event) kicks off at 9am with 500 kids in total dancing with military precision to a welcome tune on the gigantic sand racing track in front of the school. This is followed by singing the school anthem whilst flags representing Japan, Oyabe City and the school logo are hoisted up. The important people of Oyabe (I’m presuming) all line up and a lot of bowing goes on. All so formal! See piccie above.
Races ranged from the run of the mill 100m, tug of war (Japan name), obstacle courses to this battle game (Japanese name) where 3 pupils carry a 4th pupil (I’ll call him the king) on their shoulders.
The aim of the battle was to knock the cap off the opponent king and cross the line. It was hilarious to watch and by far the most exciting thing I watched all day.
Pupils' pre-exercise warm up video
The whole day was orchestrated to perfection. How? Because they’ve been rehearsing the songs, marches, races, flag hoisting for weeks on end. When I was arriving at school at 8am, they’re already all out there on the track. Poor little mites!! It seems to be the done thing here in Japan. At 6.30am when I’m walking to the train station I pass little elementary kids on their way to school, yes THAT early. No wonder all the high school kids fall asleep on the train and in the classroom. Their schedules are intensive, early starts, after school clubs or juku (cram schools to learn English) and more clubs at the weekend. Hard, long days.
Anyway, I’m digressing. Great day out. I was even involved in one of the obstacle races, having to play janken (scissors, paper, stone) with the 2nd graders. Fun, fun, fun and took me back..!
Me playing Janken in video below (with my really poor "Saisho wa guu jankenpon" Japanese lingo)