Sunday, 17 May 2009

Sports Day

Today was the local area Sports Day. Unfortunately the weather was bad so it was held in the primary school gym and was over by lunchtime. Now, it's called Sports Day but the most energetic thing that I did all morning was run back to the car in the rain at the end. The events are more like games than races and are designed so that everyone can participate, regardless of age. Even if you can't walk yet, you can still join in:

Yup, that's K and H taking part in 'Snacks please!'. This involved walking (or running if you felt like it) from the start line to a table where a nice lady would give you a box of biscuits. That's it. Any pre-school child could join in and everyone got biscuits.

Next, H and I joined in this game:

2 teams compete to throw as many beanbags into the basket as they can in 20 seconds. We lost. I like this game because if you're rubbish at it no-one notices because the whole team is doing it at the same time.

Other events included a tug-of-war and a 'race' for the over-60s which seemed to entail walking to a card on the floor, picking it up, and taking it to the finish line...

Today's grand finale was a relay for teams of 4 primary school children, 4 junior high students and 4 adults. The team members round around the track and either pick up a sweet from a plate of flour or pick a bread roll in a bag off a clothes line - both feats to be achieved using only your mouth of course...

If it had been held outside there would have been a few 'proper' races, such as 50m and 100m running races for kids and a relay for teams of 8 men and 8 women whose combined age exceeded 500. There would also have been a lot more comedy events, including a 3-legged type race for teams of 10 (so how many legs is that?). The funny thing about these Sports Days is that they are not confined to neighbourhood events or even primary schools. When I first came to Japan I worked at a high school (for students aged 15 to 18) and the Sports Day there was just the same!

Another great feature of local Sports Days is the prizes. Everyone gets something for each race that they take part in. These prizes are usually something useful for the house, from the 100yen shop. Today we got a ball of string and a tub of wet-wipes, as well as K's biscuits. No, really:

And we all got lunch too:

What more could you want?

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