A couple weeks ago my base Junior high school and 2 Elementary schools had their annual sports festivals. At shougakko 小学校 (elementary school) it is referred to as an Undoukai 運動会 and at chuugakko 中学校 (Junior high school) it’s a Taiikusai 体育祭.
I was lucky enough to attend both….. well in truth at least at the JHS level I had no say in the matter as it is part of my job.
Unlike their western equivalents the sports festivals in Japan are taken nothing short of absolutely seriously.
The event is typically run on a Saturday, with the day off being passed over to the following Monday.
Leading up to the even students have many classes dedicated to training, creating banners and rehearsing intricate marches for the day.
In fact classes are typically set aside the day before the Taiikusai to run a full rehearsal of the schedule.
Like most things in Japan, everyone is equal and participation is mandatory.
Lets just say they really drive home the team spirit at these things.
In JHS students are divided up into teams based upon their grade level and class, each set upon their most artistic classmates the task of creating an elaborate banner.
The following are a couple of my favourites （＾∇＾）
In ES the entire student body is broken into 2 large teams each student either being assigned Shirogumi 白組 (White Team) or Akagumi 紅組 (Red Team) accordingly who will face off against each other in comedic sports battles throughout the day.
Being the avid amateur photographer that I am an awful lot I photos were taken throughout the day, unfortunately I can’t freely post students faces to the interwebs without permissions so forgive my crude ‘editing’ to keep them anonymous.
A couple photos from the opening ceremony
Raising of the Japanese flag
Weight lifting endurance
Me running in the relay race against my students!
Giant skipping rope
Half time Ouendan 応援団 (Japanese Cheer Squad)
Half time suisougakudan 吹奏楽団 (Brass Band)
Track and Field Club 陸上部
In the afternoon the students paraded around the oval donned in their respective clubs uniforms.
Kendo Club 剣道部
Girls Tennis Club 女子テニス部
Table Tennis Club 卓球部 (poor kids the only member)
Basketball Club バスケットボール部
Boys Tennis Club 男子テニス部
Baseball Club 野球部
The whole lot marching
Club Uniform Baton Race (kendo club has a 100m head start to compensate the weight of running in full bogu, track and field starts 100m behind as they their club specializes in sprinting.)
Students vs PTA (Parent Teachers Association) Tug-of-war
Here are a couple photos from one of my shougakko’s 小学校 (elementary school) Undoukai 運動会, rather than being centered around individual competition, the focus is more on teamwork with the kids playing dozens of crazy games. Also instead of being segregated by year level and class the entire team is split into 2 huge teams Akagumi 紅組 (Red Team) and Shirogumi 白組 (White Team).
Giant Ball Race
In addition to the events the students also put on acrobatic type shows for the spectators that they practice for many weeks preceding the event.
The 5-6grade students annually do a kumitaiso 組体操 (coordinated group gymnastics) performance in which teams form pyramids or other shapes.
For the finale the kids form a 4 story pyramid, was freakin crazy and chotto dangerous…..