Monday, September 13, 2010
School Festival (Thursday):
Last Thursday was the culmination of all the students' determination to avoid home, the School Festival. The students, teachers, and staff have been working on School Festival preparations for months now, many students foregoing their summer vacation to come in and work. Seriously, do students ever go home? Even now, some stay at school longer than I do, and I get paid! Anyway, the festival started with an assembly in the gym where the students showed me that they can be talented and creative. The theme of this year's festival is "Colors." The stage was decorated with rainbows, there were streamers everywhere, and various paints on the walls. The gym looked like a pride parade in San Francisco.
The assembly began with a few boring speeches by the Kocho-sensei and other staff. Then the brass band performed. They were awesome! They played big band songs that made me miss swing dancing and even performed a song from the show "One Piece." It was a great time. I got permission from the band teacher to record their next practice session tomorrow. He was flattered I even asked. The rest of the morning was filled with dance routines, small plays, and other bits of semi-entertaining morsels.
I then set up my booth in the English Club classroom. We had lots of snacks, cold tea, and games like scrabble set up. People mostly visited our room for the snacks and tea. It was a hot day after all. I had my Desoto activity book, map of America notepad, 50 states word search, snooty plush, and some fact sheets about Florida set up at my booth. The kids loved the word search. Word got out many visited my booth just to grab a word search. By the end of the day, only 4 students finished it. Most gave up. So much for Japan's Fighting Spirit.
After watching my booth for about 2 hours, I decided to explore the rest of the festival. There were many themed rooms. Most were set up with walls of Japanese text probably about history or interesting facts about Nara. Wasted on me. I did visit a room modeled after that children's book with the caterpillar. See Below:
As I entered another room to check out the commotion, I-Sensei ran up to me and yelled, "Joshua, please make a wish to the Pooh God." WTF? There it was, a giant effigy of Winnie the Pooh, also known as Pooh-San here in Japan. I guess there is a tradition at some Temples in Japan to write down a wish and pray to God it comes true. I wrote a wish, taped it to the bulletin board and hoped that prick, Christopher Robin, wouldn't curse me. Don't believe me? Here is Pooh-san:
After my run-in with the stuff of nightmares, I attended the traditional tea ceremony. This is a highly ritualized, traditional art that one must be certified to teach. I ate sweets (getting sick of sweet bean paste) and drank green tea.
Some students even drew a picture of me on a balloon. For your enjoyment:
School Festival Day 2:
I went to my booth early on Friday. It was a mostly empty day for the English Club Room because there were snack booths set up outside for all (who bought a ticket) to enjoy. I was unaware of this ticket system. I went hungry for hours until a couple of student found me lifeless and lean in a ditch begging for food. I got a hotdog and some shimichi (noodle thing). Yum!
After the morning, there was the big acapella contest. I thought someone invited a teams of feral cats to compete, but it turns out they were teams of students. They tried their best, but even I have my tolerance for humoring children. I ended up retreating into the teacher's office (several others had the same idea) where my ears could rest. I don't know who won, but I don't care either.
I'm guessing my school spent a good part of their budget on the last performance of the festival. We invited a professional accapella to perform in the gym. They were AMAZING. Cheers, Horyuji, cheers. I will leave this post with one more picture: the opening gate of the festival: