Posted on Sep. 25, 2009 by geoffropuff

i wrote an article for the torrance sister city association regarding bunka-sai.  don’t feel like rewriting everything so i’ll just post with pictures:

Bunka-sai (High School Culture Festival)

High schools across the country of Japan hold bunka-sais, or culture festivals, every year.  Ichikashi was no exception, holding the event for two days, Friday, September 18th and Saturday, September 19th.  The Friday event was held only for students and faculty of the school, while Saturday’s event was open to the public.  Many parents, friends, and even students from other schools attended Ichikashi’s bunka-sai.

overhead bunka-sai view

Bunka-sai is less about Japanese culture and more about high school culture.  Each homeroom is responsible for manning a food booth, putting on a dance show, providing fun games, or even creating a maze/haunted house from their classrooms.  In addition to the booths and classrooms, different clubs put on different performances on the main courtyard stage (hip hop dance club dances, light rock music club plays some songs, and our award-winning brass band club performs a mini concert).

me in ichikashi courtyard

Of course, I like to support all of our students so I made sure to buy food from EVERY booth, including the PTA’s fresh mochi booth.  I ate gyudon (beef bowl), age-gyoza (fried pizza/chocolate/apple dumplings), furankufuruto (hot dog on a stick), yakisoba (fried noodles with pork and cabbage), Mumbai curry (Indian curry), miso konnyaku (potato jelly), tonkatsu sandwich (deep fried pork filet), and the aforementioned mochi with azuki (rice cake in red bean paste).  If that sounds like a lot of food, yeah, it was.  I definitely ate all of those things each day.  Supporting the students was of utmost importance!

mumbai curry

ichikashi cafe

Besides eating the food, I played in a few of the student carnivals.  One classroom had bowling and tennis ball target practice for candy prizes.  Another class had a cork gun shooting range and yo-yo sukui (balloon yo-yo fishing).  One of the most unique classes had a game where you had to search for small cardboard cutouts of flowers in an almost literal haystack of shredded newspaper.  The games were so fun!

newspaper haystack

cork shooting gallery

Also, there were atorakushons (attractions), which included the mazes and haunted houses, among other things.  Usually, mazes just have you walking through a maze with hanging streamers and maybe a few decorations, but this year they were pretty exceptional.  One group had a “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride where they pushed you around in a wheeled box while being sprayed from above with water bottles.  At the end, I got to choose a prize from the treasure chest.  They used the epic Pirates music and even showed a video clip of Jack Sparrow fighting the Kraken.  Very detail-oriented and an extremely fun time.

pirates of the carribean

1-A girls

Another attraction, “See the World,” involved sitting on chairs on a platform elevated by tires while watching a video being projected on a screen.  Students stood at the four corners of the platform and lifted/rocked the platform according to the video.  The ride was like a low tech version of “Star Tours” at Disneyland but very entertaining.  At first, I was wondering why I had to put on an influenza mask (yes, in Japan they say the whole word) before entering, but after finishing the ride I realized it was to minimize splash damage for those who get motion sickness and throw up.

my flu mask

Instead of having a booth, all sports classes must put on a show.  The shows involve the students getting crazy and dancing semi-choreographed songs to pop music.  Actually, they usually break form and just jump around hyping up the crowd in various ways.  The most popular way, and mostly isolated to the less shy third year class, has boys stripping down to speedos and dancing around with drawn-on abs.  At first, I thought it was pretty silly but soon realized that I used to do that kind of thing in college…

2-H dance 1

2-H dance 2

There were so many more things that bunka-sai had to offer but these were some of the highlights of my experience.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to experience another one.  You know, I may be a little biased because I love our school, but I’m pretty sure that Ichikashi’s culture festival is the best in Japan!

2nd year girls as characters

brass band at bunka-sai

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