My first ever cultural festival experience was awesome. The students and teachers spent 2 weeks preparing for the festival, and it was a success. We had a lot of visitors and everything went smoothly. For me though, it was a a very fascinating and interesting cultural experience. I've seen the Japanese school festivals in anime and Japanese dramas, but to experience it first hand was another matter. The students and teachers put a lot of effort into everything. Before the festival, every class had to decide what food item to sell at their food stand, and then they had to cook and prepare for the big day. Some students made fliers and posters while others set up the food stand. The club members as well as the teachers practiced very hard to perform at the festival, and we all had to help set up the stage and everything. The festival was held on the weekend for two days, lasting from 10 to around 3 in the afternoon. Besides the food stands and exhibitions, there were live performances throughout the day in the gym. While I was not walking around sampling food, I mostly hung out in the gym watching the performances, which included singing, dancing and live band performances. As a homeroom teacher, I had to wear the class T-shirt designed by my students. The front of the t-shirt, as you can see in the photos, has a bear, a butterfly, donuts and candies. In the back of the T-shirt, there is a lollipop with the teachers and students' name in it and the words "EAT ME". Imagine a whole class of girls, including the teachers, wearing t-shirts that say EAT ME in the back. Only in Japan. I wasn't consulted before they decided on the design, but I think the girls sort of knew that the phrase was sexually suggestive, but they mostly thought it was funny. Some class's t-shirt design had a symbol of marijuana on it. Again, the students who designed it thought it was a symbol for reggae music (god knows why) while the Japanese teachers believed it to be a maple leave. It aroused no attention or controversy but provided amusement for the foreign teachers.
Here are the photos of my T-shirt and the festival
pamphlets. My homeroom class is 2B, and in our section you can see a
drawing of the Japanese homeroom teacher's head attached to a snail's
body. He's wearing a sombrero because we were selling tacos. Poor guy.
I had a lot of fun during the festival. Everything was new and exciting. Being without many responsibilities also allowed me to go around and take photos and videos all day. Robyn came to the festival on Sunday. At first I wasn't sure if he should come since I knew his white skin would gather too much attention, not to mention being a teacher's boyfriend. In the end, I'm glad he came. It was too cool an experience to miss. It isn't any day you could get invited to a cultural festival either (I had to get a ticket for him from a teacher). It was fun showing him around the school and introduce him to my students and co-workers, and I guess he didn't mind being called "kakkoi" (cool) many times over by the white-struck students either. After he's gone though, I was attacked by the curious students with many personal questions. Students I don't even know would come up to me and ask me if I'm getting married, will I have kids etc. It was both funny and a bit annoying at the same time. I hope they won't remember him after the holidays. Anyway, the best part of the festival was the live performances in the gym, not because the performers were particularly good (sometimes quite the opposite) but because the students seemed to have a lot of fun putting on the shows. The highlight was definitely the teachers' performances at the very end. It was hilarious to see my co-workers dressed up to sing and dance on the stage. Some of them couldn't sing to save their lives but the students loved it. It made me kind of wish I could be part of it too. They never ask the foreign teachers for this kind of thing, but maybe I can volunteer next year (if I'm staying that is). I'm thinking it has more to do with your willingness to make a fool of yourself than your talents when they ask you to participate. It looked like they had a lot of fun though. I took tons of videos of the performances, and I'll upload them in separate entries.
In the meantime, check out the photos from the festival:
|2007.10.6-7 Etoile Cultural Festival|