If you know my family, you know we're big sports fans. You name the NBA player, my dad and brothers can tell you what high school and college they played at. You name the football team and they go off listing the offensive line along with the coach's career stats. I grew up learning to love every sport imaginable, so when I came to Ichikashi and realized how much of a sports school it was - I could hardly contain my excitement.
Taiikusai (sports festival) is full day event where the students are split into three teams : red, white, and blue (American colors ha!). This day is a very iconic part of the Japanese school system and let me tell you, it is one well oiled machine! The students all wear their PE clothes (first years wear blue shorts, second years wear red shorts, and third years wear dark blue shorts). They are evenly divided into the various teams, wearing headbands accordingly, and compete in a long list of relays, races, and comical games as well.
After a crazy full day of athletic events, they announce a wining team who receive juice boxes as their prize and then the PE teachers (and myself) go out to a Nomikai (party)! Wow what a day. I was sure to express my love for sports when I had to give a speech at the Nomikai in front of all the teachers and solidified my friendship with the girls basketball coach who now has invited me to practice with the team (pray for me; they run A LOT).
This is the field, or in Japanese-English the "ground", where the event was held.
A proper morning bow to the principal.
One thing I was really amazed by was the student involvement. The third year sports class led the announcements, stretches, and MC'd the whole event. The other students took turns setting up the various events working in perfect unity with one another.
For the first 4 person relay students changed into their individual homeroom shirts.
I wish I looked this happy while running.
These are all first year students (you can tell by their light blue PE shorts) but they are evenly split into red, white and blue teams (you can tell by their headband color).
This event was a race, spin 8 times around a baseball bat, crawl under some sticks, jump over a few huge hurdles, climb over a wall, and either do a jumprope or a potato sack jump!
The 3A girls (these are students I teach!) were having a ball watching the boys participate!
"AMIE! TAKE OUR PICTURE!"
This next event was a fun one where the girls had to pic up a random card that said either Kinako (roasted soybean flour), flour, aonori (dried seaweed), or cocoa, run over to have the boys spray their faces, and then search in their assigned bowl for a piece of candy.
Another awesome thing about this event is all the parents who came out (on a Tuesday) to sit in the hot sun all day and watch the events. I thought it was so cute of them to come out a cheer on their kids.
This next event was for the boys only, where they jump in a potato sack and then run to grab a bread with no hands. I will request for next year that they change it to where the boys actually have to stand there and eat the bread with no hands!
This next event was a fan favorite by far! A group of students run to pick up a random card that will say either a specific persons name on it, a general characteristic ("find someone in first year") or the one everyone wants "find someone you like!" EEK! haha. Once you find that person you have to tie your feet together and hop across to the finish line.
The girls were all smiling from ear to ear while watching this event and were eagerly anticipating the "find someone you like" card
He ran and picked her out of the crowd and the crowd went crazy!
Tallying the scoreboard...
and this has got to be the craziest tug-of-war I've ever witnessed. Full participation by all team members!
This next event was really amazing...the different homeroom classes practice for weeks and weeks to all jump over a jumprope at the same time. When they told me about it before I thought to myself, "that is impossible! 25+ students can not jump all at once" but sure enough...due to incredible teamwork and timing every single class could do it...and not just one jump, I'm talking 10, 20 jumps in a row!
Now this event was pretty crazy and the boys obviously had a blast. The goal is to grab the other teams hat's off their heads while being hoisted in the air by your classmates.
And one of the last events of the day...the true mark of sacrifice...a team race across each others' backs.
Well, that just about wraps up the events of Taiikusai! It was such a fun event and I loved seeing the students all actively participate in the races and games...and cheer each other on along the way.