Festivities are always a big event for high school students no matter what country they are in. While in America those festivities are often homecoming, prom, sports games, and various other events (getting drunk out in the woods somewhere), there are still fun events and activities that happen within the more rigid structure of Japanese high school education.
Last week happened to be one of a few more festive events that is hosted by the schools. Not only did my base school have class match during that time, but it was also Yanai Koko’s bunkasai, school festival. Both events are always a busy but fun for students and teachers a like.
CLASS MATCH – クラスマｼチ
Class match is when each class of each grade go head to head against one another by doing various sports activities. It is very different from sports day because sports day is when a team made up of each grade level will battle against each other. Class match is just made up of teams within one class. The sports for this event were basketball and soccer for boys. For the girls it was doge ball and badminton.
The day was a humid, hot, sunny weathered day but was cooled off by everyone’s happy smiles. The wet air was penetrated by the cheers of student for one another as they watched with exited eyes. Some would cheer with pure joy of wining while others would shout out in encouraging tones.
Each team did their best, but only one team for each sport could hold the number one spot. Win or lose everyone had a good time.
School Festival – ぶんかさい
The school festival is a big two day event hosted by schools all over Japan. While the events vary from school to school they often follow the same basic event outline. There will be food, there will be entertainment, and the first and second year students will do something special in their homeroom classrooms. Yanai Koko’s school festival had various activities and events each day.
The first day had started with the opening ceremony put on by the student counsel. After, the day was filled with food sold and cooked by the third years, classroom events held during the four hours of free time the students had been given, and a few performances. With no lessons to worry about that day the students smiled from ear to ear as they chatted with friends and could enjoy what they had been working hard preparing for the festival for weeks.
The second day was mostly performances. The main event being the class chorus competition. Each class chose a song that would be sung for the contest. They then worked together as a group, without assistance from teachers, to prepare the piece that they chose. Me being me, I had run around listening and giving pointers/advice where I could to students as they practiced.
On the day of the competition I was one of five judges. It was hard work, but ever class did a great job. Though a third year class took the cake with the song 3月9日 by レミオロメン, about graduation. I know they did well because even though I couldn’t fully understand the words, due to my lacking Japanese skills, I was moved by the feelings they passed on to me as I had listened. They deserved to win.
Other events that day included performances by the Koto group, a traditional Japanese instrument, the string ensemble, and the bras band. Also each one of the schools clubs joined in to entertain students and visitors by putting together dance performances of their own. The soft baseball team won with an impressive show of style and humor. The boys tennis team was a close second for wearing skirts and wigs.
There was also hidden performances that included the assistance of teachers. The brass band had male teachers, two boy students, and myself dance to Heavy Rotation during part of the AKB48 medley the band performed. Another teacher joined the string ensemble with a sanding base. The best part is he never even played it, he only had to bark like a dog at the end. It was a great addition to the piece The Waltzing Cat. There was also the two teachers who assisted conducting the string ensemble. They both had their turn and did their best to conduct with simple one/two count style, but in the end got the job done. There was also the dance performance by the student council at the end of the day that included one of the older female teachers.
Each day was long and tiring, but filled with so much laughter and fun. The days had been hot and humid but no one let that get them down. Students and teachers worked hard day in and day out to make the week the best they could, but they do this almost every day regardless.
I am always thankful to be able to partake in events such as this with all of my students and teachers. Each day I watched them create, struggle, and stress over putting together great events and performances. I assisted when I could, but they all did a really great job themselves. I know each student will grow to do many great things down the long road of life ahead.
I look forward to next years festivities.