Saturday, June 11, 2005

Maiko Festival

My school had their Bunka-sai (Cultrual Festival) on Friday and Saturday.

Friday was for the students, neighbouring elementary schools and kindergarten kids to enjoy the games, stalls, concert and food. Saturday was open to the public for families and the students' friends to come along and enjoy what the kids had to offer.

I was so impressed with the whole affair. Each homeroom was decorated and the students designed their own t-shirts and outfits. They sold frankfurts on a stick, yakisoba pan (bread with soba noodles in it), fried noodles, ice cream, juice, drinks and sweets. Other rooms had flea markets, games like bowling, ping pong, darts, Where's Wally, quizes, fishing for prizes and shooting targets. They also sold handmade friendship bands.

They had one room called "Hozumi (homeroom teacher's name) Love Wagon". Girls could buy a pink string necklace and boys, a blue string necklace. Each necklace had a picture attached to it and the aim was find your matching picture, hence finding your love partner. If you did, you then went back to the room and got a polaroid photo taken with your partner in the love wagon - a huge, pink painted cardboard cut out of a wagon. Another variation was "Love Wanted" with matching numbers and matching your half of a broken cut-out heart. I didn't find my partner. But some other teachers ended up getting matched with each other and with some cute kindergarten kids.

Some clubs also set up stalls. For example the book club sold second hand books and set up a little library rest area. The computer club set up an Internet cafe. The art club displayed their works. The astronomy club had a planetarium presentation (unfortunately I didn't get to see it). The science club put on a Science Show - they were so cool (in a geeky-nerdy kind of way haha). Nah honestly I was so impressed. They had a demonstration with liquid nitrogen and froze flowers then crushed them for 'high impact' haha and smashed a frozen soft ball on the floor then for the big finale, one of the students kinda dipped his hand in the stuff and threw some up into the air like misty raindrop fireworks. Sure they may not rank very high on the high school 'cool' meter but it was really interesting and in their long white lab coats and ties - how could you not love em? The PTA had a flea market, free potted cactuses and little craft workshops for jewellery beading, knitting and painting.

Various student rock bands performed on stage and some girls did a dance performance. I was so bummed that I didn't get to see them (I felt so bad because I promised my 3rd year girls I'd watch their dance) because I was rostered to perform tea ceremony for the tea ceremony club.

I bought my yukata and finally got to wear it on Saturday. I was dressed by a 2nd year student who does Japanese traditional dance so she knew who to wrap the yukata properly and put on the obi. The tatami room was turned into a calm, quiet and very zen tea room. Apparently a perfect break from all the noise and craziness going on outside.

When not performing the making of tea, I was an assistant who cleared the tea cups, prepared the sweets and served the tea. The 1st year club members were in the back doing all the prep work while the 3rd year members and myself did the actually tea ceremony. The 2nd years served the tea and did a bit of everything. When we were behind the curtains in the preparation room we rushed around to get things done and organised but once our tabi-ed feet entered the tea room, we became silent, elegant performers. It was really quite fun and I didn't realise how hot it could get in a yukata!

When some teachers came in for some tea, they were so amused at the token gaijin tea hostess. They took photos and said I made tasty tea haha but the most embarrassing thing was when students' parents came for tea and thought I was a student (I don't blame them, I look like a freakin' 15 year old and most of my students are taller than me hahaha). When my teachers pointed out that I was actually in fact the ALT from Australia, they gasped in shock, bowing apologetically and giggled "Oh what a cute teacher!" "I thought she was a student!" "But she lookes Japanese." But I'm used to it by now, mainly because I can get away with a lot more going under the radar.

I had so much fun and I was really happy my students tried speaking to me in English out of class. I don't think they see me so much as a teacher but as an older sister. *sigh*


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