Sunday, September 23

Taiiku Taikai

Scoreboards waiting for their scores.

Each September, across Japan, elementary, junior high and high schools hold what have been dubbed in English as "Sports Festivals." It really has nothing to do with sports as we know them, so much as with athletic events that emphasize teamwork.

Hazards of Taiiku Taikai training: many the scraped knee. Since most of the events involve falling onto the gravel field if you mess up, most kids still bear the marks of Mukade gone wrong.

Depending on the size of the school, there may be two to four teams, each of a different color. If there are only two, my experience has shown Red and White to be typical, but at my GCS (I wanted to change it to "Love School," based merely on the Japanese structure "sukina gakkou," or "kiraina gakkou," literally "like school" and "hate school," but I think some people may have a problem with its English implications... so I'll call it LS and maybe everyone will forget. Just know that it's my favorite school this year.)... so at my LS, they had Blue and Red.

Belonging to the faculty leader of the Blue Team.
The leaders at LS were outrageous and infectious.

Some new-to-me events this year:

At my other junior high, they did something with "Taxi" in the name of it. A back-and-forth relay, it involved first two students dragging another across the field on a tire, then another pair carrying one student hanging from two bamboo poles. So funny! LS had a similar event, but with only the bamboo poles. No tires.

Mukade. LMS didn't do this apparently classic event, where students line up one behind the other, one foot tied to the person in front of them, the other to the person behind them. They put their arms under the arms of the person in front of them, and hold on to their shoulders. This creates a tight line of people, linked from top to bottom. Then, counting "ichi, ni, ichi, ni," they must race across the field without falling or breaking apart. Let me tell you, this event provided much hilarity for me, some in the form of half a line (15 or so) girls falling on top of each other, and half a line of boys breaking off and gleefully zooming to the end, thinking they had it made. Good Times.

There were a lot more "Three-Legged Race" style events this year, usually involving many more than three per group. One was something to the effect of "Kani (Crab), Can You Walk Right?" where they had to side-step across the field. The better groups got a good high-step going and flew right across.

Typical of these Sports Festivals, there was a dance. However, usually each team presents a dance and some sort of clapping or fan display. At LS, the entire student population participated in a Souran dance, representing fisherman. Here are two videos for you, not from my schools:

Robes waiting for the back-up Souran dancers.

Print on a main Souran dancer's robe.

Aaanyway, in the end, the Blue Team won, fewer tears than last year were shed, students and teachers were tossed into the air, some landing more safely than others... Before you realized it was over, the parents had all the spectator tents down, and we were working on the rest.

Taiko drum and poster.

That night each school had their Taiiku Taikai enkai, or party. Fortunately for me, LS's was about a 10-minute walk from my house. Long story short, it was the liveliest enkai I've ever been to. Good Times abounded. Afterwards, some of us continued on to karaoke, which was even wilder. This was my first karaoke with Japanese folk (if you can believe it), and it was an experience! Good Times.


Blogger Melissa said...

This week's BLEACH was totally like a birthday present for you from Kubo TITE (^_^) It's like he knew.

2:25 PM

Blogger Abbey said...

Dude, if Tito REALLY wanted to give me a present...

But yes, this week's Bleach was totally excellent!

2:58 PM

Blogger Melissa said...

I was thinking about that when I wrote that, but I think TITE just doesnt want to encourage any unhealthy behaviour on your part. (^_<)

Undoukai's were always pretty deadly in the ghetto...Even at Beautiful Mountain school. Those scraped knees look pretty tame to me. Where's the carnage we all come to this blog for?

And How the !$#@^ do you live in Japan for over a year without getting your karaoke on with the natives?


9:09 AM

Blogger Abbey said...

No one ever asked me before...

9:24 AM

Blogger Melissa said...

Not exactly true. i seem to remember Colin and I requesting your presence at a certain beautiful mountain school enkai...

12:56 AM

Blogger Abbey said...

Hmmm... ok, maybe that sounds vaguely familiar... I'll give you that one time...

6:08 AM


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