Last weekend, those of us teachers who work at the English school (the after-school program) were invited to the local elementary school’s annual Sports Day. We teach several classes at their school on weekday mornings, and some of their students come to our English school, so we know quite a few of the students. At first, I was a little hesitant about spending my Saturday at school, but it turned out to be lots of fun! Although I don’t have a lot of experience with public schools in the States, it seemed quite a bit different from similar events in American schools – more organized and well thought out.
The day started off with a fireworks signal – at six in the morning! It was the school’s way of letting the townspeople know that Sports Day was still scheduled. The festivities didn’t start until nine, but after the loud explosion I couldn’t go back to sleep!
A little before nine, we four teachers headed over to the school, about a five-minute walk from where we live. The weather was beautiful – a sparkling day, warm and clear but with a nice breeze. When we got there, the students’ families were already spread around the perimeter of the dirt-packed field in front of the school. We teachers got fortunate – we got to sit at tables under some tents, along with other visiting teachers and administrators. We even got green tea and little bags filled with snacks!
The field filled with children was an impressive sight:
This was actually less than half of the children. They were divided into two teams – the red team and the white team – and their team’s color was indicated by the reversible cap each student wore. The photo above is, obviously, of the white team.
They all did warm-up exercises before they got started:
After that, there were several races, broken down by grade and class. Then the younger students did a dance:
Some relays and other games followed. Then there was a sort of pep ceremony, where each team shouted some announcements and cheered for their team. The spirit definitely can’t be captured in a photo, but here’s one anyway.
One of my favorite parts was the marching band. They performed just after the lunch break, and they did an absolutely fantastic job.
One of the fun parts of the day was that we actually got the chance to participate a little! We ran a (very short) race with the other visiting teachers, picking up a paper grab bag on the way. Mine turned out to have cling wrap, tin foil, and individual packs of tissues. 🙂 We also went out during one of the younger students’ events to cheer them on.
So, my “Saturday at school” turned out to be a great day after all. I had fun and left feeling very impressed at the order and organization of the event! The pictures don’t really do justice to the whole atmosphere of the day, so my hope is to get some videos uploaded at some point. I’d love to share some of them with you, because, as I found out, there’s just nothing like a Japanese Sports Day!