School Culture Festival
October began with a special school event, the 2nd and 3rd were our Bunkasai.
Bunkasai, when directly translated means 'culture festival and every school has one around this time - though I guess in English terms it was a kind of a combinations of School Fair, School Play and Concert and an Open Day all together. So there was a mix of games to play, food on sale and performances from the kids of various types in and around the school.
The enterance and courtyard were all decorated for the day, including some nice illuminations that looked very pretty in the evening.
For quite some time now students had been doing preparation for this event after school - this meant singing practice and rehersals for the plays; most classes also had some kind of project they worked on (making a mosaic, or stained glass, or posters, etc etc). I really wanted to help with the preparation, and I was given a very important special job that only I could do -
Well - they told me that it was very important that I stand very still with that duck on my head and touch nothing anyway.... I'm still not sure why?? And they all left the room??? :-) Actually, I helped out painting the backdrop for the first years play and sorting items out for the bazzar. Here you can see someof the kids pre-bunkasai perparation and art work.
The first thing I noticed on the actual day though was nothing to do with the festival, but the new uniforms some students were wearing. October marks the official begining of the Autum period and students can choose to stay in Summer uniforms or change to Autum Uniforms - I got a couple of comparison photos.
Much more interesting were some of the costumes students were wearing - including the obligatory bit of cross dressing :-)
These were mostly for the kids running the games stalls - which were typical school fair things like ten pin bowling (with plastic bottles full of grit for pins), hoop tossing and an interesting Japanese varient on hook-a-duck where you have a paper scoop and have to scoop small prizes out of the water before the paper breaks - at the school festival the prizes were small plastic toys - but I saw the same thing with little fish and even baby turtles at the Otsu Matsuri.
These stall were only running on the second day of the festival though - the first day was dominated with staged events in the hall. There was a Taiko performance, a Harry Potter look-a-like contest and each year performed a play.
OK That wasn't really a Harry Potter look-a-like contest - but it could have been!!!
This was the second years play - about a troubled student and domestic violence!
The first years play was about a deaf student joining a baseball team.
And the third years did a play about refugees in Okinawa hiding from soilders in the caves there (I was the voice of the American soilder calling them to come out!) . So very light topics for all of the plays then!
The second day had way too much chior singing as EVERY class had to sing two songs -
To be honest I got bored and wandered off around the school and took a photo of a Japanese toilet for this blog as I thought that might be interesting for you all -
Most places have western style toilets now - but you can still find a lot of these Japanese squat and drop ones too; the Japanese say they are more hygienic because no part of the body touches the seat, which has some logic... but I'd prefer a supportive seat anyday still!
After the choir singing the program was more mixed however - there was brass band music, student volunteers did various routines, the teachers sang (I joined the PTA choir and sang a Japanese song and 'We are the world' as well) and some teachers also did a so-bad-it-was-funny dance routine. Plus there were all the stalls and games I mentioned before.
I got the full 'dance' on video too - watch the guy in the centre with the head scarf; he missed the couple of rehersals they had and has no idea what is coming next - also love the bit where they should form two lines but most of them go into the same line :-)
All this time students were free to wander around and see which things they wanted in the various classrooms (there was tea ceremony, video presentations and handicrafts for example) or just sit outside eating and chatting.
The whole thing went on all day until it got dark when there was a closing ceremony outside and a few prizes were given out - then lit by the illuminations and a full moon we packed up and went home.