塩江町運動会 平成23 – Shionoe Sports Festival 2011

This time of year has schools enjoying their annual sports festival.  Not sure why we call it a sports festival, since it translates to exercise festival, which it is.  The only sports are the numerous footraces, with the rest of the events being various dance routines and relay challenges.  The Shionoe take on this event is that it is not limited to a single school, as is the case of other districts.  The obvious reasoning behind this is the lack of students in my town.  By combining the groups, they can actually provides a full day of events.  Not only the students, but the volunteer fire crew was there as well.  I actually enjoyed this arrangement, since it allowed me to see all those under my umbrella at the same time.  With everyone assembled, the hand ball field had been transformed into a world class venue, fit for the top echelon of athletes.  The weather all day was a bit wet, but the show went on.

Assembled for the national anthem and the opening speeches.

The morning events were mostly relays and races.  There were numerous heats of kindergarten kids, though none were too interesting.  I much preferred the older kids running, because there was a lot of cheering for the associated grades.  I would have enjoyed having something like this in America as well, with full school participation rather than just the jocks.  Sure, the athletic students will still win, but I was plenty impressed by the rest of the students as well.  As I say that, I am also confident there would be a large portion of the students ‘too cool’ for it and either ruin it or refuse to participate.  Ah well, at least I’m here now to enjoy it.  After the morning session there was a break for lunch during which the drum group that I’m involved played a 2 song set in the gym.  It was a lackluster performance on my part, but it felt good to show all the parents that I am involved in their town beyond just being a legendary educator of their children.  After eating a bag of cookies a stranger gave to me, it was time to resume the events of the day.

Warm up and the Shionoe Elementary Routine.  Had to be held in the gym on account of the rain.

The next event was a performance by the small school, Kaminishi Elementary.  This was an amazing performance.  I know I’ve mentioned before that the kids are all proficient at unicycles, its more or less a right of passage among elementary students.  The routine borrowed heavily on their talents, and I was really quite impressed.

After this, it was time for the middle school guys to do their thing.  The guys do a number of gymnastic builds, and emphasize more the the strength side of the day.  I practiced with them once, and 5 minutes before showtime I was asked to fill in for them.  I managed to pull it off, which was fortunate, but it also prevented me from taking video.  Instead, here is a picture to give an idea of what they were doing.  It certainly went beyond pyramids, also including a 3 tier “lotus flower”.  A fall would have been pretty serious.  Again it was good to be a part of the action, and given that it was a success, it only raised my credibility.

The last performance was made by the middle school girls.  They did a dance routine, that I was really impressed with.  That all the girls in the school would be out there regardless of athleticism while still pulling it off stunningly was really impressive.  They had wooden clappers in their hands that added to the unified effect.

Miscellaneous involvement from me was in a 5 legged race.  Where everyone had their legs tied together and then had to run carrying some beanbags.  Once at the end of the course, those that hadn’t fallen off were then thrown at a basket.  The winner was determined based on points and time…neither of which was us.  The other thing I did was an event that required a short sprint over to various sealed bakers desserts hanging.  The objective was to remove the item, in my case melon bread, without the use of hands.  Not only did I dominate this event, I had numerous people comment on how great I am at it.  What a winner I be, natural born to be sure.  Well, that’s the end of this year’s games, till next spring I can look forward to more unicycles, races, and defending my status as bread snagging champion.

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