Saturday, September 03, 2005
Today I was at the Junior High School Festival. Even though everything was in Japanese, it was still really fun. The morning program was lots of speeches, mostly from the students. They ranged from funny slideshow presentations of recent class trips, to serious speech competitions. The school "brass band" played a few numbers, and there was also the class singing competition. Each class sang a proscribed song, followed by their own selection. They were pretty good for a bunch of Jr. High kids. And I guess singing in Japan isn't like at home -- here you do it whether you like it or not. But they seem to enjoy it. Even the boys. Even the grade nine boys. The boys here enjoy cross-dressing too. There were a handful of guys who ended up in drag at various points during the morning presentation (and at the Strawberry camp I helped with last month, the boys were much more into the wigs and dressing up than the girls were... interesting...).
The most fun was hanging out at the ﾊﾞｰｻﾞｰ or bazzar (pronounced katakana style as baazaa). I got a chance to actually hang out with the students, instead of being a "teacher". They had all sorts of different games, and food and stuff. These are some of the really crazy ni-nen sei's (Grade 8s) manning the "bobbing for goodies" area. Goodies included plastic beetles, superballs, and balloon yo-yos. I'm almost as bad at these games as I am at catching fish. Same technique.
Another fun area was the candy store -- I was treated to all kinds of strange Japanese candy by many of my students. Stuff like dried squid, dried umeboshi (pickled plums), dry ramen noodles, and some really nasty sugar "yogurt". I don't know what that last one really was, but I hope never to encounter it again. I should have taken pictures.
After the bazzar wrapped up, there was a cool trivia game. All three classes and the teaches participated. Each team sends up a group of four to six players each round, and they have to answer a question together. And by together, I mean each person writes one letter. So not only does the whole team need to know the answer, they also need to figure out which part of the answer they are. Example: One of the questions was what is ringo in English? So to get it right, the first person writes "a", the next "p", and so on. I'll have to try and incorporate this game into some of my English classes. It made for some entertaining answers.
There were also some skits and entertainments from some of the students, and a perfomance by a student rock band. They weren't too bad, except for the really off-key vocals.
And of course, no school festival would be complete without having the student body dance in unison around a bonfire to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw". In pairs no less. Of course, I got in on the fun too, and was there was much laughter because I started out dancing with one of the cute, young male teachers. For some reason, this blog won't let me put any other pictures on, so please take a look at my flickr site if you want to see more.
Oh yeah, there was also the closing ceremony where prizes were awarded for the morning competitions. I think the san-nen sei (Grade 9) swept the awards.
It's definitely getting to be the end of summer (sigh!). I was freezing by the end of the afternoon, and it was only 20C in my apartment when I got home. In the last few weeks it's been closer to 28C. And, yes, living in Victoria has made me a total cold weather wimp. It's a good thing it doesn't get that cold here -- just boatloads of snow.