My first Japanese Undo Kai (Sports Day)

Today it rained
... but it didn`t ruin sports day completely.

I had to wake up at 6am this morning to go in to work early and help everyone set up for sports day. This included stapling paper flags to pieces of rope, packing up pom-poms and relay batons and then taking everything to a nearby high-school (which has a big sports field).

Sports day in Japan is pretty intense. We started everything off at 10am on the dot with speeches from the owner of the school, the manager and the 2 head teachers. All the kids lined up and marched onto the field.

All the kids then proceeded to do their Radio Taiso performance (that we have been practicing every morning for the last month or so) in wonderful unison, and then the elementary students did a kind of line-dance, while the kindergarteners shook their pom-poms to the beat.

All the kids marched off the field and then made smaller groups to take part in 4 different activities spread around the field. The activity that I was responsible for was a kind of `obstacle course` which included jumping into and out of tires (that is `tyres` for all non-kiwis out there), crawling under a net and running around golf flags slalom style.

When this was finished, the kindergarteners sat down in their lines and watched the elementary students do a kind of pyramid performance which was very cool.

Then... it started raining.

All the teachers ran around furiously trying to herd the kids under the small roof at the head of the field, and trying to move all the decorations we had made, out of the rain (which meant putting them into the back of the parents` cars which were parked near the sports ground).

`What decorations?` you may ask. About 3 weeks ago we (the teachers) were instructed by our managers to build small houses to represent our countries to use as decorations on the sports field. We were not given any other instructions (apart from the size - which was to be about 1.5m high, and 2m long).

Here is the house I built...

This side features a big `n` and `z` for New Zealand, a silver fern made from tiny pieces of aluminum foil, red `bricks` printed from the computer and color photocopied, and pictures of iconic New Zealand things like kiwifruit, sheep, the all blacks, a buzzy bee and a $5 note.

This side features huge pictures of all the kids in my class, a big blue door and pictures of potted sunflowers. There is also a New Zealand flag on the roof.

Despite a lack of direction, materials, time and supplies, I think I did ok, and everyone seemed happy with the final result. Unfortunately there is not much left of the house after the rain :(

When the rain stopped (well paused really), the manager announced that we would carry on with the programme, so we managed to get the kids back in lines to do a big `tug-of-war` and a `throw all the little balls into the big basket` game which I had never seen before and can only assume it is a Japanese sports day game.

The rain held off a little longer and we did an elementary school relay race, a kindergarten relay race and then a parent/teacher relay race. For those people out there who know me well, you will laugh at the fact that I had to participate! I ran 100m around the track and didn`t fall over, so it wasn`t too bad.

All in all, it was a very interesting experience, and the rain didn`t completely ruin the day. In fact the rain didn`t start back up again until everyone was back in their cars and on their bicycles ready to head home.


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