30 October 2011

School Festival

Posted by Roland under: JET .

Back when I was studying in Tsuru in 2005, we had something called a “bunkasai” which would loosely translate to “School Festival”. It is what it sounds like, a festival at school. In the case of my studying abroad at Tsuru, there was a music stage with performances, random games across the campus, and various clubs had rooms all to themselves, where they would either sell food, crafts, or run some kind of activity, like a haunted house. For reference, the foreign students and our Japanese tutors ran a place called “Tsurufornia” where we sold popcorn and possibly chicken nuggets. We were supposedly selling “American” food, so that’s probably as good as we could have done under the circumstances.

Here in the present day, I was told that my middle school would be having their School Festival soon as well. I had seen them prep here and there throughout the school days. Some classes would practice singing, playing instruments, others looked to be hard at work with artworks of various mediums. I was never asked to participate directly in the festival so I didn’t get too heavily involved in any planning. But everyone seemed to be hard at work in some role doing something for the festival all across the school.

Eventually I came to the realization that the middle school festival would not be like the one I had at my university. When I had saw a school festival pop up on the school schedule, I had been assuming games and booths, similar to that of my university experience. I wised up when I got a schedule for the day, where it would consist of musical performances and skits by each of the classes at the school. Not quite the festival experience I had expected, in fact, it seemed more like an all day assembly, but that’s the tradition of the middle school festival. I guess they save the fun stuff for high school and up.

Of course, the school festival turned out to be a lot of fun. While I didn’t have an active part in planning I did enjoy seeing my students in action. In fact, I was kind of surprised to see some of them excel in their singing/art/skits since my only exposure to some of them is in English, in which not everyone can be a superstar. But it’s a testament to the fact that everyone has something they’re great in, and for some of them, while not English, it can definitely be something they did at the school festival. I was extremely impressed by the third graders, who actually had to do an hour long play. Now if they could only use the energy they had in memorizing lines into memorizing English.

The gym was decorated with artwork from various students all around the walls. There were pictures of sights around Amakusa, some anime style pictures, sculptures, and even calligraphy. Family members and friends would filter in and out during the day, depending on if their child was up on stage. I think the third graders took it especially serious as well. It’s their last festival in middle school, and for some, possibly their last school festival ever since high school is not mandatory education in Japan. It was most noticeable when they picked the winners of the class singing competition and both third grade classes won (although I hear that the third grade always wins regardless, because of the significance of the last school festival.

It was a great time, although I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to participate myself next year, possibly in some sort of English capacity.

2 Comments so far...

Anonymous Says:

10 November 2011 at 9:31 am.

Was the 3rd grade play depressing in some way? The last two years have been one in which a land of total freedom ended up being terrible and last year’s was set during WWII and ended with most of the primary cast dead if I remember correctly.

Roland Says:

14 November 2011 at 12:12 am.

Yeah, it ended pretty depressingly too. It was about a doll house of living dolls and a girl who wanted to escape from responsibility and became a doll with the rest of them. But then she found out it wasn’t really a dream and became a doll, whereupon the entire cast fell down on stage to signify the end.

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