Asia | Japan | Shikoku – Yasu ChuGakko Undokai- Sports Day
Wow, what a day!
Just finished my Junior High school Undokai, a much more enjoyable experience than my first one last year. This is probably down to two things- the fact that I now have a clue about what’s going on and that today’s weather wasn’t half as oppressively hot and humid as last year’s.
Today’s weather was perfect- Shikoku was expecting a typhoon but luckily it skirted off to the east about 200 miles south of us and has sent fresh, blustery wind to counter the oppressive sunshine.
(Someone remarked that my monthly article in the local magazine always starts woth some comment about the weather, I checked and they were right ‘yappari igirisu jin da!’=
‘Typical of a Brit!’. I’m not ashamed of this! Weather has such an effect on moods
and events- and I can’t let the stereotype slide!)
The school was divided into two teams- red and white, and aswell as winning on points they can win a separate cup for ‘Encouraging/Cheering’ on their own team. The idea is to develop team spirit as well as competitiveness, which makes a lot of sense and is very typically Japanese.
The squalling wind, rare without accompaniment by pelting rain, seemed to gee on the kids even more and spurred them into being a more active bunch than I’ve ever seen. Kids half my size ran twice as fast as I’ve ever been able, the Cheering squads in their regimented, co-ordinated formations screamed their lungs out and the spectators joined in just as heartily.
I was on the red team: ‘Akagumi’ and must have worn the words out with repitition.
The opening of the day involved the many speeches that any opening/closing ceremony requires, with different people repeating the same thing, and a lot of bowing.
We did ‘taiso’- everyone (the Head, the mums and grannies too) joined in with this short exercise/stretching routine often used at the start of the day.
The events consisted of some familiar ones: the 100 metres, relay, and Tug-o-War, but plenty of unfamiliar ones- girls and boys holding hands and running an obstacle course; ‘takeuma’: bamboo stilt walking (very difficult!); bamboo climbing; ‘mukade’: the centipede race where five people in a column tie their legs together and have to race all using the same feet at the same time. Great fun. No sack races, and no Olympics-type track and field events except for those I mentioned.
Unusually, it was a dead heat between Whites and Reds- 424 points each. This hasn’t happened in the memory of any of the teachers here. The White team, though, won the Cheering Cup- making the Red team leaders to feel they had lost on both counts and the White leaders to have won on both.
We finished about an hour ago, at 4, and with everyone chipping in to clear up and take down tents etc we were cleared up in less than 30 minutes. Now it’s 5 oclock and the kids are back out on the sports pitch playing soccer, singing, dancing and messing around.
We teachers are recovering in the scruffy staffroom, wondering how the hell these kids have so much energy… must be that crazy typhoon feeling!