Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's Festival Time, Again?!

First it was the Fall Festival at the local shrine, then it was the Culture Festival at the school that I teach at, and today... Well, today was Sports Festival at Makoto's pre-school.

In Japanese, this is known as undokai and is a serious event that happens throughout a Japanese life. It starts in pre-school, picks up steam in elementary, comes to age in junior high and high school, and can still be found in both college and adult life. This Japan Times article goes into great detail about undokai for elementary school, but we're talking Makoto.

Makoto, who has been practicing his song and dance for the last three weeks, often at the top of his lungs and in the bath.

Race time
But this was Makoto's day to shine. His class had a number of events to participate in: a school song, a race, a ninja obstacle course, giving gifts to younger children, and finally, the parent dance. The first two are pretty self explanatory, the only downer was that Makoto came in 3 of 3, and this was after worrying that he was going to toss a shoe like he had been doing in practice, but even though he came in last for his heat, he was all grins.

The last three however needs some explanation. Makoto's class's theme was ninja, for some reason and their costumes were supposedly ninja.

Apparently even the Japanese are starting to believe the lies of Naruto given that the kids had gold headbands on.

But the whole thing was cute, first the kids raced on their homemade can walkers, then they hopped between two tables, climbed over an inverted L pipe, and then attacked the crow...

Ninja the tengu!
Er... I think. I'm still not too sure as to what that was, but they all picked a fruit (A water balloon) from a 'tree' and then tossed it into the basket being held by a tengu, a crow goblin from Japanese mythology. I'm not exactly sure as to why they did this, or what ninja skill this was supposed to be, but Makoto was Makoto. The poor tengu had spilled his basket of balloons right before Makoto showed up so instead of tossing it into the basket, Makoto very politely went over and placed his balloon carefully into the basket.

This is my son in action. ^_^

The next activity involved Makoto's class giving gifts to the younger children in his school as well as every other young child, i.e. the younger brothers and sisters of the kids in the school. Yes, it was very cute, this dad has no problem stating that the awwww factor was high here, especially as the first time around there was a slight miscount and Makoto didn't get to give his gift, which led to him and his partner poking at it to try and determine just what went wrong.

FINALLY got it!
The best part was Hikaru however as he was supposed to get a gift too. And boy did he try, every time the whistle blew, he'd take off like a bat out of hell just to be caught by Beloved. When his time finally came... He proceeded to run... right to Makoto because he thought big brother was going to be giving him something.

Again folks, awww....

The final event was the all school parents dance. Beloved backed out of this one and I, clad in a suit minus the tie and jacket because I had to head back to school to finish my school's festival, joined the crowd to dance with my son. Of course, I didn't know the dance, couldn't understand the Japanese, and couldn't see the teachers demonstrating the dance, but it didn't matter. I got to dance with my son two times around with the song, smacking thumbs, bumping rears, and then high fives. Silly, yes, but the smiles were worth it.

Finally, undokai came to a close and the school principal, again keeping with the Olympic theme, awarded everyone the gold.

Bringing home the gold
Silly, perhaps, but for the kids who had been practicing for weeks, it was was all worth it. Next year will be Makoto's last so he'll be doing the longer, more physically challenging events to prepare him for undokai at elementary school.

Hopefully by then we can figure out a way to keep Hikaru from trying to sneak onto the field, steal food from other people, or kidnap someone else's daddy to take him on the slides.

1 comment:

  1. Festival days are great for kids, so much fun! Good job on the gold!