Sports Day Festivals

Sunny days coming and Aomori Prefecture warms up just in time for the Sports Day Festival \O/ This and next weekend will be completely devoted to cheering on my kids as they compete for the greater glory of melon flavored bread and a commemorative plaque somewhere in their schools’ glass cabinets.

Teams are divided into Red vs White and are called Kouhaku (same as the battle of the bands during the New Year’s celebrations). In bigger schools, you’re more likely to find an upwards three or more groups so other colors apart from the traditional red and white are introduced (you’ll find a yellow group in the pictures below). I’m not exactly sure if every school breaks up the same way but one school did the group breakup completely through raffle. The other had less kids so it tested all of them and then evenly distributed the strongest/weakest/median kids into two separate groups. Unlike American sports days (which I remember having jumping, running, sit up/push up/dodge ball competitions), Japanese kids only have variations of a long time favorite: running.

Relays, races, marathons… it’s all basically running. Just about the only competition that doesn’t involve running is the cheer war between red and white teams. And I’m sure the parents are quite grateful to be invited to watch their kids burn all their unspent energies on the track. With the exception of one almost cancelled sports day due to some unexpected rain, for the most part they ran in a smooth and timely manner, with all kids helping to clean up afterwards.

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