Monday 30 September 2013

The Joy Of Undokai

Undokai or sports festival is a really big deal in Japan. The kids practice for weeks beforehand and all the parents and often grandparents come along to watch. There are some things that I don't agree with, like having the kids sat out in the sun, no hats for most of the day. The amount of time practicing then the government trying to re-introduce Saturday school because they think the kids are not getting enough instruction time in *face palm*!

On the other hand, the kids seem to enjoy it, there is no emphasis on individual winners, it is all team building, if you win a race it is for the team. Which, to work in a Japanese company, this is what it is all about, it is all training for the salary man mindset.

Ebi-kun's school is big, over 1300 kids, add parents of those kids, siblings and grandparents and that is a LOT of people milling around the school. To give them their dues, it was organized with military precision. For the sprint, the parents have to wait in a 'holding area' until their child's group is up to race, then you get herded into the photography zone near the finishing line, you take your pics then go. I wasn't in a good spot and this was the best pic I got!

For added fun, you can imagine this post like Where's Wally/Waldo, you have to find Ebi-kun in each picture....

This years theme was ninja so the 2nd grade did a dance to some really annoying ninja tune, I would find the youtube version for you, but you would hate me for the ear worm and quite frankly, I don't want to put myself through it! They looked cute though!

That was Ebi-kun done for the morning, they give you a program of events, so we went for a very long lunch and left them to it. There seems to be a different policy from school to school, here the kids eat together in the classroom and parents are asked not to eat at the school, due to lack of space. A friend yesterday, told me that at her boy's school, the kids eat together in case some parents can't make it and the parentless kids feel left out. Another friend, the family all eat together and the bento making for the day is quite competitive.

I quite like the rules for our school! I didn't go the whole hog with the crazy bento making but I did make a Nameko boiled egg...

After lunch there were more team games and relays. This one the whole school is involved in, the roll the big ball from the first graders over everybody's head until the sixth graders, then they have to get it in the box, if you can imagine what 1300+ kids all screaming their head off sounds like...

Trying to spot Ebi-kun was a nightmare, even though he hair is fairer than everyone, a tip for anyone with girls, get them to wear really long bright socks!

Second year relay is the 'carry a ball in a scarf' race, done in teams of 4, Ebi-kun can't wait until 4th grade because they race in pairs wearing really big pants (2 kids in one pair)!

It all finishes with the 6th grade relay, by which time everyone is shouting like crazy and is all very exciting. After all that there are speeches and cool down exercises to be done, then all the kids and the PTA members clear everything up. A long and hot day!

It is completely different to the sports days I had growing up but for the kids I think it is equally fun. Do your kids have sports day? What is it like?

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  1. It looks like a lot of fun. Great pics!

    P.S. I would not be happy about Saturday school either

  2. Agh, Saturday schools should be totally off the agenda. It takes a day or more to get things from the previous week sorted out, to prepare for the week ahead, and then there is some family time, and relaxation time, and visiting friends time and - I need my rest too! How can you do that just on a Sunday?

  3. exactly! It won't be happening in this house and I know quite a few others that say the same thing, ridiculous!


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