Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time Warp- Sports Day

I had a great, great time in Tokyo and Toyama last week, and I fully intend to write a dazzling, breathtaking blog about my adventures. In fact, specifically for this purpose I bought a cable that can connect my phone to my computer and get all the fabulous pictures I took off my camera. After an entire week of work, I finally was able to successfully download the driver for this cable. Now my computer recognizes there is a phone connected to my computer . . . but that's it. I have no idea how to get my pictures. CURSE YOU, TECHNOLOGY!!!!!!!!!

Anyway until I can get that going, I decided to write a blog that I skipped from when I was just a newbie here. In Japan, every school has a phenomena known as Sports Day. Sports day involves the entire school participating in various athletic events that range from the usual to the extreme. Here at Nita Middle School, the students divided into three groups- blue, red, and yellow. I was officially a member of the red group, although I didn't get to participate in any events and spent most of the day knitting a pumpkin. Our Sports Day was in the beginning of September and we were blessed with some sunshine and only slighly nippy weather. All the events took place on the track behind the school- complete with gratuitous mountain vista in the back.

As I mentioned, events varied from normal to wayyyyy out there. There were relay races-駅伝 or ekiden. And when I mean there were relay races, I mean THERE WERE RELAY RACES. A lot of them. I counted, and without overestimating there were approximately 1,128 different ekiden, with every possible combination of students. (Ok, it might have only felt like 1,128. Still.) But we all know you don't wanna read about relay races. You want to know about the odd events. And oh boy, can I accomodate you.

One event was called むかでが多い!or Too Many Mukade! Remember the blog post about that horrifying insect known as the Mukade? It's like a centipede on steriods. With poison. In this race, the boys got their feet tied together to look like this monster in a kind of ten person three-legged race. (How many legs does that make? Eight?) After that it was pretty straightforward- the team who can run around the track the fastest wins. Of course, hilarity ensued as half the teams toppled over in piles of wiggling limbs. I thought the gloves on the head boy were a nice touch.

Another great even was a kind of capture the flag. But in this capture the flag, five boys held up a pole with a flag on the top, and three boys from another team have to climb on top of the other boys to capture the flag. Imagine lots of smelly feet in faces, stepping on heads, and the like. Excellent.

This last even was probably the most extreme. Did you notice all the students were wearing headbands marking the color of their team? Well, in this even on boy sat on the shoulders of two teammates, and tried to attack his rivals and rip the headbands off their noggins. Extreme, right? In fact this even boasted the greatest injury- one boy got scratched in the eye and fell off his teammate brethren and bumped his head. He was carried off the track in the arms of the principal, bleeding on Mr. Fukuda-san's nice suit. I asked Mr. Fukuda-san about the boy later. "Oh, he's fine" he said. "Just a scratch."

It's not that the girls didn't have interesting events too, they just weren't as intense as the boy's competition. I found one even particularly sexist however, as it was called 掃除 souji or "Cleaning" and involved the girls using huge brooms to sweep soccer balls through an obstacle course. Hmmmm.

A major part of the points was divvied out to the team who won the cheerleading competition. I'm posting the Blue Team's video below for your watching pleasure. In the beginning of this video, the four boys in drag are supposed to be coming over from America. What do are they dressed as? A nerd, a cowboy, a school girl, and a chesty blonde.
God Bless America.

May I just add that there was no adult supervision or choreographing in these cheers. Teams of third years took over the entire thing, practicing every day for a month during lunch break and for hours after school. Now that's dedication. Lafayette Jeff Students, wanna have a cheerleading competition too?

Although the yellow team won the cheerleading competition- guess who took home the gold!!! YAY RED TEAM!

Sports Day is one of the most important days of the year in Japanese schools. Every school has their own sports day, from kindergartens to high schools. I actually got to go to a kindergarted sports day- it was one of the most fun and adorable things ever. I didn't take any pictures because the cuteness was overwhelming.

Someday, someday I will figure out my phone, and you all will get caught up on March. Until then, hope you enjoyed this time warp!

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