Tuesday, September 19, 2006

End of Undokai (Sports Day)

Well Saturday was the day we did undokai. The weather report had been calling for a 70% chance of rain and I was totally expecting to come to work in a torrential downpour due to the oncoming hurricane #13, dubbed Shanshan in Korea. Japan uses a numerical system to denote typhoon nomenclature.
Tropical Storm Shanshan headed for Japan's northern island of Hokkaido after weakening from a typhoon overnight. The storm killed nine people and injured more than 300 when it hit southern Japan, Kyodo News reported.

Shanshan, with maximum sustained winds of 92 kilometers an hour (58 miles an hour), was located 260 kilometers west of the island of Okushiri off south Hokkaido at 11 a.m. today Japan time, the Japan Meteorological Agency said on its Web site.

Shanshan, the 14th-named storm of the Pacific cyclone season, is moving northeast at 11 kilometers an hour across the Sea of Japan and is forecast to be close to south Hokkaido at about 6 p.m. today. Shanshan is expected to cross Hokkaido's northern coast by tonight or tomorrow morning.

We had no rain all day long on Saturday. It was sunny, hot and windy. It couldn't have been a more perfect day for an outdoor sports event like sports day. We began promptly at 8:40am and did finish until nearly 4pm. The events went smoothly without any major incident. No children were seriously injured and overall it was a pretty good sports day.

The teachers all got obentos from the local yakiniku restaurant. It was awesome and I was starved because we didn't get to eat until nearly 1:00pm. Many parents ate lunch with their children as most of them had camped out on the school grounds.

And Habatan made a special appearance during some of the activities. Habatan is basically a chicken-like creature in Japan. It's really a phoenix, but it looks more like a giant yellow chicken to me. One of the teachers had rented a habatan costume and went around cheering children and acting silly. It was very exciting and funny.  Habatan was selected as the Hyogo Sports character for 2006.

There were several activities planned, like the mukade (kids tie a rope around their ankles and run in sync with 5 other members) race, F1 (tire rolling race) race, Tug-of-war, Kibasen (calvary game like "chicken fighting" , and so on along with traditional events like the 400 meter relay, 800 meter relay, and an obstacle course activity.

When we finished with the undokai, the winner was announced. Each grade level competes against the other and they win points during the entire event. So ichinensei had 3 classes 1-1, 1-2, and 1-3. The winner was 1-2 for the first graders. (In America ichinensei would be 7th grade students). The big winner was 3-3. When they won and were presented the trophy, they went crazy. It was as if they'd won the Olympics.

Other than that the only other thing worth noting was the parents. Some of them looked rather sleezy. One mother was wearing high heels, a short mini-skirt, a puffy fur jacket (it as about 30 degrees celsius) and a big cowboy hat. My jaws dropped when I saw this woman. I couldn't believe she'd show up to a Sports festival wearing what looked to me to be "hooker clothing".

Some other parents were smoking on the school grounds despite the fact that smoking was banned from all schools in Japan back in April. They have no manners and set poor examples for their children to follow.

After work, all the teachers went to Himeji for a party. I was unable to attend due to a previous engagement. But I am sure they got drunk and had a great time. Perhaps next year I will be able to go.

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