I found the old blog I kept while I was living in Japan and I want to share some posts with you!
This was one of the first ones I wrote after moving from Los Angeles to Chikuzen-machi, a tiny town in the Fukuoka prefecture on the island of Kyushu. That’s the island south of Honshu, where Tokyo is. Chikuzen-machi is in the inaka, aka, the sticks! I was working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) at two chugakko, or junior high schools, and given that I’d not worked a day as a teacher before moving to Japan, I was experiencing a lot more novelty than just culture shock.
(Originally posted September, 2006)
Yesterday I watched the junior high Sports Day rehearsal. Yes, a REHEARSAL for a field day. I didn’t understand why they had been practicing so hard for this (every afternoon for two weeks – all afternoon classes were canceled) until I saw their Sports Day “run through.” I have experienced field days in the U.S. My elementary school held one every year. There are relays, three legged races, sprints, etc. They have those activities here too. But they have more…so much more…
For example, the Samurai Battle. This one is for the boys only. (How un-PC!) One boy sits atop two boys’ shoulders – one butt cheek on one of each boys’ shoulders. Another boy stands in front and the two “base” kids put a hand on the front boy’s shoulder so that the boy on top has a sort of chair. These three base kids are the “horse” and the one sitting atop said horse is the “samurai.” They then proceed to play a game of chicken with the other “samurais” atop their “horses,” trying to knock each other down until one sole victorious samurai remains.
There were many more variations on these competitions and each one was more elaborate and more dangerous than anything I have ever seen in an American school’s organized sport. They are very fond of putting kids on top of other kids. After every “game,” a handful of students were brought to the special medic tent to be patched up. At least they were prepared.
Fun stuff nonetheless and definitely interesting to watch. Sitting there though, I felt a little like I was watching a chariot race or a gladiator match. haha.