Between late September and mid-November, at schools all over Japan, Culture Festivals are held. Each school has their own spin on festivals, some doing bazaars, others (like mine) doing chorus contests.
At one school, the agenda was all singing, with a morning of competition (I’ll explain that in a minute) and the afternoon as an open mic sort of thing. Students put together dance routines, preformed as bands, or just did abstract performances. It was entertaining to say the least. The last number, was a band comprised entirely of teachers, with the head English teacher as singer. Naturally, he sang all 80’s rock music.
The second school, during the second half of the festival, set up “corners” in each class room. They essentially had free reign of what this was. One class hosted the “Guinness World Records,” where they challenged visitors to try and beat the best scores from their class. Another class had a full scale planetarium set up. My favorite class, filmed their own short film! The students put a lot of time and effort into these displays, and completely decked out their rooms with paper decorations, posters, etc.
The chorus competition is something that the students spend about a month practicing for. Every morning, lunch, and afternoon since mid-September, I could hear each class practicing. Each class sings two songs, one song that every class sings (chosen per grade level) and one song of their own choosing. The conductors are students, as well as the accompanying pianists. Awards are given to the best class in each grade, and to the best student conductors and pianists. They work very, very hard at this. The loosing classes almost always shed a few tears.
I also went to Shumei University’s culture festival. They had tents set up with students selling food and drinks made on the spot. Choices ranged from yakisoba and tapioca drinks, to hot dogs on a stick and “che,” a vietnamese dessert drink. Other events were video games (Super Smash Bros.) a planetarium, basketball, exhibitions by the different clubs, taiko, and so on. It was a two-day festival, so by Sunday, everyone was a bit worn out.
Lastly, Koga had it’s own “variety” festival. Last Saturday, there were about 100 tents set up in the Koga Park for local shops. Our friends at Ocha Nova coffee shop were there, making coffee art as usual. There were also many produce stands, bread stands (Michi no Pan, my favorite, was there), yakitori stands, and so on. There was also a stage where local clubs such as the hula club and the hip-hop club performed. If you’ve ever been to a farmer’s market in America, it’s pretty similar. Not to mention, Carolyn was practically a celebrity with all her elementary students coming up to her and saying “hello.”
Fall is definitely an exciting time here!