Published: June 19th 2008June 3rd 2008 Japanese vocab undokai
: Japanese "sports day", held at all schools once a year oyako
: parent and children gambatte
: do your best! you can do it! Kocho sensei
: the Principal genki
: energetic, lively mecha
: very very very kakkoii
: cool oshare
: fashionable, stylish, trendy
On Sunday, May 18 (after the Hanshin Tigers game), I got up at 7:30am to drag myself (up the hill no less) to my Junior High School, Naga Chuugakkou, at 8:00am...why you ask? Because it's undokai of course! Every year at Japanese Schools, they hold a 'sport's day', which lasts all day. While some schools are merciful and have it on a regular school day some, like mine, prefer to invade personal time and force the students, teachers and staff to come out on a weekend day. The only good thing about that is that instead the give you a substitude holiday (since you worked on a weekend) and the whole school gets a weekday off, usually Monday.
Despite it being a Sunday, it was a fun day- the weather was beautiful and hot and the kids were all extra genki for the occasion. The kids actually practice sometimes after school or in PE for the undokai
too cool for school
Want to get to know your Junior High Kids better? Just wear your sunglasses to some school event...they'll all want to try them on!
events and they really try hard. And even though undokai is usually translated as 'sports day', I think that's just a euphemism...cause they don't really play any sports. I think it would better translated as...ummmmm....exercise gathering? relay day? Something along those lines. They don't do things like volleyball or basketball, instead they do relay games like an obstacle course relay, a baton relay and a three legged race. They also do a jump rope competition, this game where you try to toss balls into a basket suspended high up on a pole, and tug of war. Then there was also this one relay game where each team had a pair of wooden boards with 3 pairs of straps on then for where your feet go. Three people stand in tandem with one foot on each board, held on by the straps and then they have to walk that way for a length and turn around and come back and then the next person goes...that one actually looked kind of tough, but it was funny to watch anyways...
Then, since ours is an 'oyako undokai' parents can also come out and participate. I think we only had about 15 or
The teams and their team colors, marching towards the podium.
so come out, but they participated in some of the games, sometimes as a team agains the kids. But for some activities, like jump rope and tug-of-war, in addition to having a round where each class competes against each other, they also have a competition where people from certain areas compete agains each other, broken down mainly by which elementary school you went to. They had 5 different groups. One for Ozu Elementary school, one for Kaminate Elementary School, 2 for Nate Elementary School and one for people who live in the Oji area of town.
Those were the games that we fun to watch. I guess some of the areas have pride in where they came from...even though we're all in the same town, the areas where they live are kind of distinct. For example, Kaminate is up in the hills above town, and is somewhat isolated. Ozu is across the rive from the rest of the town and Nate in the main central area of town. I don't know where Oji is...
Aaaaaaaaaaanyhow, even though it meant that I had to 'work' (and by work, I mean stand and watch) on a Sunday, it was actually
The teams are just the different grades, split up by their homeroom classes. There are 2 first grade classes, 3 second grade classes and 3 third grade classes.
a really entertaining way to spend half a day. It was a good feeling to see the kids actually putting effort into something, as opposed to their super low energy alter-egos that we have to deal with in class all the time. Plus it was a rare chance with me to hang out with the kids instead of just teaching them. They all though my sunglasses were mecha kakkoii
and that I was oshare
because I was wearing them...then they wanted to try them on all day- even the boys. Actually, mostly the boys. In fact, one third year boy, Abe-kun, tried them on and thought he looked so good, he asked if he could have them as a graduation present...
There are more photos below