taiku-sai (pictures, videos soon to come)
like bunka-sai, taiku-sai is an annual event for japanese high schoolers. taiku-sai is a sports festival that pits three colored teams against each other (red, white, and blue). every homeroom in the school is assigned a color, each color made up of approximately 3 homerooms from each grade. i was on the blue team and we got last place, though due to no fault of my own since the teacher’s race was cancelled this year due to time restrictions. ken’s white team won so he was noticeably ecstatic.
before the day of events, of course the school gathers on the field for motivational speeches by various faculty and, wait for it…….GROUP CALISTHENICS!!!!! only in japan…
the morning of taiku-sai usually involves preliminary relay races between homeroom classes. these races are probably the only event that aren’t based on colored teams (oh, and also the group jumprope). it’s kinda unfair, though. the way our school separates homerooms is based on the following: 1 international course class, 1 brass band course class, 1 sports course class, and 6 general course classes. obviously, the sports classes are going to fare much better in the taiku-sai, and it was no different this year.
after the relay race preliminaries, the colored teams competed in various “sporting” events. some were atheletic events (tug-of-war) and some were just craziness (face-in-powder race).
besides relay running races, there were various relay races. one involved students spinning around with their foreheads on baseball bats then trying to do an obstacle course where they had to jump over a pommel horse-type thing, climb over a foam wall, then follow cards telling you to run backwards, crawl, hop, skip, etc. to the finish line. the funniest part of this race is trying to climb the foam wall because there are other students bracing that wall. many times they will push the wall to smack the competitors in the face. unfortunately, one my students (a girl) got trampled after finally getting over that wall. she’s currently wearing her arm in a sling.
other relays involved digging for mochi in various powdery substances (aonori, kinako, flour, mustard powder, wasabi, etc.) [jk about the wasabi] and drinking upside-down soda cans hanging from ropes. students were walking around with stuff all over their faces and soda all over their shirts.
i almost forgot to mention the race where students grab a card that says something like “principal,” “sports teacher,” “suki na hito,” etc. (suki na hito is important) the students have to run and find someone who fits the description on the card, hold hands with that person, and run across the finish line. simple enough right? it’s really funny seeing the principal and vice-principal holding hands with students. but the real reason for mentioning this is “suki na hito” and the hilarity (i’m a terrible person) that ensued. “suki na hito” means person you like. i heard this hooting and hollering during the race so i looked and this boy and girl were holding hands with that sign. slightly amusing so i made sure to look out for more of those signs. sure enough, i see another one only it’s two girls holding hands. i thought, “man, how boring. she didn’t even try to get the boy she liked” until she started crying. i realized, she tried to grab the boy’s hand, got rejected, so just got her friend’s hand, and then broke down from the rejection. it was very sad and super entertaining at the same time. fortunately for her, i didn’t catch her ultimate shame on camera.
for tug-of-war, each grade was separated into three teams and they competed against other teams in their grade. our school has, literally, the longest rope i’ve ever seen in my life. the rope spanned the entire length of the soccer field, not including the fact that the ends were a bit coiled. i guess you need large ropes when you have over 100 students pulling on that rope. i have no idea which teams won but it was thoroughly entertaining.
after tug-of-war was group jump rope. whole homeroom classes jump one rope together. it’s pretty funny looking at a full soccer field of students all jumping rope together. and man, the rope-turners have some work on their hands.
we had a lunch break after jump rope but commenced with the grade games afterwards. the first year girls played a game where they had to stand outside a circle and throw beanbags in a basket on a third year boy’s back. it was funny because the rules were not immediately clear so when the starting gun went off, the girl bum rushed the guy in the middle to slam dunk their beanbags. it was like an axe commercial where the girls start tackling the dude. anyways, it was a mild game for the youngest girls.
the second year girls had a slightly more violent game. i don’t know what they call it here but i’m gonna call it, “bitch, get off my tire” because that’s what it was. about 15 tires were stacked at the midpoint of the field and at the sound of the gun, the girls just sprint and try to pull the tires back to their end of the field. there were DEF girls getting dragged on the ground with the tires. i’m seriously surprised more people didn’t get hurt.
the third year girls had a similar game but with huge, inflatable rubber balls. for those of you who have seen the show wipeout, think smaller versions of the big red balls. the point was to push the ball to the other side of the field. i will never forget the image of girls sprinting to the balls, smacking into it at the same time from either side and everyone just bouncing in opposite directions. again, i swear that more people should be getting hurt. these things would NEVER happen in america. the school would get sued for even thinking about having such an event.
and on to the boys games. the first years also had a steal-the-bacon type game but instead of tires, they used long bamboo poles. it looked like rugby circles around these poles.
the second years played a game where boys got into groups of 4 and made a pyramid. 3 boys braced the last boy on their shoulders and tried to steal other color teams’ hats. the last color standing won. it’s like playing chicken in the pool but playing on a dirt field. (this brings me to another point. i keep saying soccer field but i’m sure you all notice the dirt. no, they don’t play on grass. yes, the soccer players come to school with HUGE raspberries on their legs from slide tackling on the dirt/sand field) fortunately, despite the semi-dangerous wrestling that occurred, nobody got hurt.
and finally, my personal favorite but also most dangerous game in the history of mankind: capture the flag from a 15-foot pole. each team starts at one side of the field with a large pole. there is a flag at the top of the pole that the other team must try to steal. the method of getting said flag is to bumrush the other side, climb on people’s faces to mount the pole, climb high enough on the pole for the weight to cause the pole to come crashing down, then grab the flag and sprint back to your side before the other team can do the same to your flag protectors. also involved in this equation are blockers who will seriously hockey check you as you madly sprint toward their pole. i LOVE this game. it is quite possibly the most amazing thing i’ve ever watched, even better than grant and my slapbet. okay, nothing is as good as slapbet, but it’s damn near close.
at the very end of the day we have the class relay finals. 2-H and 3-H finished first and second, respectively, but my 2-I (international course that i teach) got third. suck it, 1-S (H was the sports class before but they changed it to make more sense with an S). i am absolutely sure my 3-I class would have also done well in this race had they not dropped the baton in the preliminaries.
many of these games and events aren’t exactly athletic events or sports related but really, who cares? it’s a good excuse for students and teachers to bond without having to sit in a classroom all day. awesome.