He Who Laughs Last


Often we like to laugh at other cultures. Our superior attitude of ourselves and our ways probably contribute to this. Japan’s apparent need for overly many practices, drills, and meetings falls into the “Things at Which to Laugh” category a lot.

Today’s plan was to cancel four periods of classes to prepare for the Taiiku Daikai (体育大会) next week. Literally meaning “Physical Education Big Meet”, I usually translate it as “Sports Day”. On Tuesday, the whole day will be spent conducting athletic competition involving every student. Normal events will be:

  • 200m dash
  • 100m dash
  • 400m relay
  • 600m relay

Recreational events will be:

  • 騎馬っていこう! Kibatte Ikou (Knight Fight – piggy back battle)
  • トリオでGO~ Torio de GO (Go as a trio – four-legged race)
  • 行け!マリオブラザーズ Ike! Mario Burazaazu (Go! Mario Brothers)
  • か~し~て kaa shii te (Puhhhleeeeaze – scavenger hunt)

Class events will be:

  • Centipede Derby (conga line race?)
  • やぶさめポン Horseback Archery Strike (beanbag fight?)
  • せ~のっ! Ready, Go! (35 person jump rope)
  • Relay (each student runs 100m twice)

I can give you details about some of these next week, after watching the actual event. But now, back to today’s practice. Lots of practicing has been taking place for a month, but today we had the dress rehearsal. Primary goals seem to be:

  • Preparing the students to quickly assemble and stage
  • Practicing announcements and speeches
  • Checking the ability to meet schedule
  • (finding out how many students will need medical attention)

Watching them assemble and stage was pretty impressive, perhaps more so than the Self Defense Force (自衛隊) and certainly more so than the para-military right wing groups (右翼) that have propogated in recent years. I was still smirking about too many meetings and practices while I watched, but was suddenly struck by the necessity of it all.

Getting 450 junior high students to keep a tight schedule, executing 45 events in about 5 hours (less an hour for lunch), is a tall order. Our head coach cancelled our 5th and 6th period classes around lunctime today, in order to conduct more practice. Some people might say we are trying to do too much in one day, but the schedule is set and it will take a lot of practice to achieve it.

After my classes were cancelled, I headed to the Board of Ed., so I don’t know how the afternoon went down. I will be sure to give a little more info next week.


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