Monday, September 18


Saturday was Sports Festival day here in town, which means I was up at my LMS at 8:30 Saturday morning, with two cameras and a Kool-Ade smile. Actually, I was pretty tired from my super run Friday afternoon and anticipating soccer on Sunday.

At any rate, the games went off without a hitch, in spite of some rearranging due to a little rain and perhaps other things I didn't understand. Para variar. Along with one of the other teachers who has a digital SLR with a 28-300 telephoto lens (nice!), my job for the day was to take a buttload of pictures. And a buttload of pictures I did take. About 500 to be exact. I have to assume that at least 1000 pictures were taken by me, H-sensei and the other teachers, because I know he was snapping away as much as I was.

Here's a rundown of some of the events from the day:

1. Tug-of-war
2. Sprint races. (one lap)
3. Two-lap races
4. Relay races
5. A relay where the students run three at a time, holding a long bamboo pole. At each of three cones they must swing around the cone, twice at the third one before running back to their team. When they get back, one kid drops the pole and the other two run it under the feet of their lined-up teammates who must jump over it wave-style. Then the pole is run back over their heads and passed to the next three students at the front of the line. This is a cute game, but if a student, many of whom are in barefeet, doesn't make it over the pole, it makes for some banged up toes and scratched up knees, as was the case. One team even broke their pole in half when they tripped over it, and the last three had to run with half a pole.
6. A three-legged relay where two students (and then three) run with their ankles banded together. On the way around the track they must grab a jumprope and jump 5 times, do a somersault on a big mat (like for the high jump), dribble a soccer ball for a few yards, and scramble under a metal barrier.

7. Another three-legged relay where the students run, climb over hurdles, get to the end of the field where they open an envelope to find their task: a.) using a ball inside a work glove tied to the end of a rope, knock off the bottle taped to the helmet on their partner's head. or b.) with their backs to each other, lob a volleyball into the farmer's basket on their partner's back. The second round involved running 4-legged (no ties) carrying a volleyball between the two of them with tennis rackets.
8. A capture-the-flag game where the flags are lined up on either end of the field. Both teams then rush to grab the other team's flags and get them back to their own side. Players not busy stealing other flags tried to prevent their flags from making it to the other side.
9. Another pole game for boys only where each team held up a tall wooden pole with their flag at the top. Three runners from the team would dash across the field to the other pole. One would climb the pole, grab the flag and throw it down to his teammates who had to run it back across to a bucket on their own side. Obviously the first team to do so won.
10. Another pole game, where 5 poles (or 6) were lined up at either end of the field. The teams had to dash across the field, grab the other team's poles and get them back across the field to their own side. Again, those not engaged in stealing had to tug on the other end of the poles being stolen.
11. Team jumprope. I think the winning number was 33 or so.
12. I think that's it. There was a point when I was sans digital (dead batteries), so I only have film shots of those events, hence I can't remember.

After the games, the teams presented their dances/cheers before the panel of judges - Kouchou-sensei and some PTA members. Then taiko, which was so great and cute, followed by a teacher-PTA-parent relay carrying a ping pong ball in a metal ladle. I got to be in this and it was great fun!

Eventually the final scores were revealed, there were tears of joy and pain (sunshine and rain), returning of the champion flag to the Red Team, some speeches within the grades, some tossing of people in the air, and a whole lot of cleaning up.

What impressed me about the cleanup was that most of the families stayed to help take down the tents they'd been sitting under and to carry things back to the gym, etc. Teachers, students and families all helping together. A nice day.


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