Last Sunday my host family took me to see a small festival at a local school (elementary and junior middle school). I had the opportunity to watch a variety of entertainment from all ages (the teachers, parents and grandparents got involved too), the behaviour of the children and their parents and also the chance to walk around a Japanese school.
I’d never previously considered that shoes are taken off before entering the school and exchanged for slippers. I like this idea a lot, and was even more impressed to learn that schools don’t employ janitors and cleanliness and hygiene throughout the school is the responsibility of the students. Photos of toilets being cleaned by students were posted on the wall with messages, presumably as a means of encouragement.
It always surprises me how much effort and enthusiasm are put into these kinds of events. The quantity, quality and variety of the performances, along with relative instruments, costumes and props were all of a high standard. The children were very orderly and no one seemed to have their own agenda of stealing the show or causing chaos. Several different groups of grandparents got up to ring hand bells, sing and even dance. A large number of people attended, and my own host family have no connection with this school but attend such events whether or not they are hosting a foreign student.
Some of the staff members seemed to be very intensively focused, and I can imagine them being quite rigorous in getting the most out of their students. However, the organisation lived up to the stereotype of efficiency, but all the while retained a warm and pleasant atmosphere.
The conclusion of this post is a continuation of the theme of teamwork which I expressed appreciation for through yakyuu in my last post, and was brought out excellently in the documentary ‘Kokoyaku’. I’m sure if a documentary were made about school festivals in Japan, I’m sure the same theme would resound throughout it, and it is a quality which is comparatively a novelty in my own country that I appreciate more and more with every example in Japan.