Busy, Busy

Clearly I need to stop socializing. Meeting people for drinks on the few evenings that I’m not running errands or too busy &/or exhausted due to school has deprived me of chances to write entries. But by God, I’ve got some time tonight, so I’ll get typing before my friends and family start breaking out the voodoo dolls.

Last Saturday was the school sports festival. The sports festival is a yearly, one-day event that is held during September in every school in Japan, although each school decides the content and exact date of its own festival. For ours, the basic itinerary was: races, class competitions, and mass performances. The races were standard sprint, distance, and relay affairs. The class competitions were much more interesting.

In Japanese schools, classes – by which I mean the groups of students – are static. That is, the students in each class are the same for every subject. They even stay in the same classroom, except for subjects like P.E. or art, while the teachers move from room to room. For the competition, each class was pitted against the other classes of the same grade.

The class competitions included games like tug-of-war, with bamboo poles instead of rope, and the thoroughly unsafe, but thoroughly entertaining game of horse battles. In the horse battles, the boys (only) form four-person groups, where one boy rides on top of the other three. Each rider wears a red hat and your group is out for the round if you lose your hat, leave the ring, or if the rider falls. Five teams go at it at the same time, and the winner is the last one standing. As you can imagine, the matches got fairly savage. Teachers were in the ring to make sure that no one broke their neck in falling, but blood was drawn.

The mass performances.

There were two mass performances. All the girls in the school did a synchronized flag dance and all the boys did synchronized acrobatics. Well, acrobatics isn’t quite right, but basically they made human pyramids and that sort of thing. Several boys were injured during practice, but happily, we made it through the actually performance without any incidents.

So the sports festival went from 9 to 4. At the end of the day, all of the teachers got together for dinner and drinks, and about half of us went on to a second round of the party. Round two was at a tiny bar that you can rent for a group of about 20 people or less, with drinks, snacks, and karaoke included in the price. Speaking of the karaoke, people sang various Japanese pop songs while I abstained, but then two teachers declared that they wanted me to sing something by the Beatles. I demurred at first, but after a great deal of pleading from everyone, I finally gave in and went with “Let it Be.” But it’s sad, I only just now realized the humor in the title of my chosen song.

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3 Responses to “Busy, Busy”

  1. The Drunken Vandal Says:

    Oh good lord. Best post yet. The Sports Festival sounds just shy of amazing if it weren’t for the fact that you sang “Let it Be.”

    All I can picture is you in the scene from “Lost in Translation” where they are singing karaoke. Brilliant.

    Glad to see you are stayin gbusy and having a good time. Kari has also been folowing your post for educational purposes. She is interested in how the school day, students, and staff work over there.

    Request: More pics of the Kebenosan in his new land.

  2. Doug Says:

    When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
    speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
    And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
    speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

    Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
    Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

    And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
    there will be an answer, let it be.
    For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
    there will be an answer. let it be.

    Let it be, let it be, …..

    And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
    shine until tomorrow, let it be.
    I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
    speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

    Let it be, let it be, …..

    So, Kevinjames, thank you for shining your light on us!

  3. Mari Says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m glad you’re having fun as well as working.
    Thank you so much for your blog. It works out great for us, because we get to experience Japan vicariously through you!
    The downside of the bare dirt is that it looked like it could get pretty dusty.
    And muddy during the rainy season. Is there a rainy season there?
    Our rainy season here hasn’t started yet. It’s still sunny here on the west side of the Cascades. I expect the rainy season to start any week though.
    Mark’s putting in an airtight woodstove which will be more efficient than our wood furnace. The airtight stove will burn round the clock. No more getting up in the winter mornings to 52 degrees in the house. (We’re getting soft in our old age and need luxuries)
    Love,
    Mari

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