Merry Christmas, Japanese Style (Part 1)

So for the past two weekends, those of us who work at the local kindergarten took part in the school’s Christmas program. Last Saturday morning, the three-year-olds and four-year-olds performed; this past Saturday, it was the five-year-olds’ turn. We American teachers also had to sing several Christmas songs! It was fun, though, and I got some photos and videos of the children’s performances. Hope you enjoy!

The program for all of the age levels followed a similar format. Each involved singing and dancing of some sort, usually part of a play. There were also band performances. I was impressed by how well all of these young children did, although the three- and four-year-olds definitely lacked coordination, which was sometimes amusing!

First up were the three-year-olds. They performed Little Red Riding Hood.

I quickly realized that there are some common movements in the various plays that were performed. Since I’m not very familiar with American children’s drama, I’m not sure if these are unique to Japan or not. First, the dancing involved a lot of swaying forward and backward. It felt like almost every song/dance included that. Why? I wondered. Because it’s easy for young children to do? I also noticed that the “good guys” in the stories often ended up chasing the “bad guys” around in a circle,  and usually when the “bad guys” were defeated, they showed their defeat by either lying face down on the floor, or lying on their backs and flailing their legs back and forth.

Next, there were some dancing Santas, and then the story of Momotarou. This is a popular Japanese folk legend in which a boy comes out of a peach, gets adopted by an elderly couple, then grows up to fight and subdue some Japanese-style devils who are terrorizing the village.

Here is the Peach Boy himself:

Another thing I noticed was that, in these plays, there were often doubles of the main characters. Again, I wondered if it was because of the young age of the children. I guess I need to learn more about drama!

Here is a video of two Peach Boys (you can see a couple of the “devils” peeking out from behind the “island”):

After a couple more performances, the parents of the three-year-olds cleared out, and it was time for the four-year-olds to perform.

There were some dancing ninjas:

The story of Hansel and Gretel. The two girls in the front are the crying Gretels. Yes, there are two, and two Hansels as well.

There was another rendition of Little Red Riding Hood. There was also a performance by the school band. I thought they did pretty well for four-year-olds! The band performance was the last one, and then after some final words, the program was over…at least until the following week, when it was the five-year-olds’ turn to perform. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!


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