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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shougakkou bunkasai

- or Elementary school culture festival, to English speakers.

I work at two elementary schools. There is really only one word to describe elementary schools in Japan. That word is: crazy!

The first of my elementaries held their bunkasai, on Sunday,Ostober 25, a day after the Middle school. As usual there were a couple of hilarious performances.

Sixth grade is the final grade in Japanese elemntary schools. Every year the 6th graders'play has something to do with the dreams for their future. This year, the kids spoke of their dreams in front of their "teacher" in a classroom. Now any good Japanese student production needs a twist. So, right after the children told their dreams, aliens landed! (These things happen more often in Japanese plays, than you would imagine!) The aliens said they had seen the future and the children would all become fishermen and rice farmers.

At that point, I got a little bit depressed, because that's quite possibly true. It's no secret that the emphasis is on "fitting in" in Japanese society. My town in semi-rural: farmers and fishemen fight right in.

But then the play took an unexpected twist- having lived in Japan for a year, the aliens were almost predictable- the kids refused to take the destiny the aliens gave them. They decided that they would be what they wanted to be. And the aliens? They had no choice but to leave.

One giant step for 6th grade. One small step for the town of Ichinohe. Maybe...

Another memorable play was the 3rd grade production. It was abotu Doraemon, probably one of the best known early anime characters. Those of you who grew up in Barbados, like I did, might know that cartoon as Albert and Sidney, because for some reason, that's what it was marketed as there. Anyhow. Back to the play. So these guys decided to kidnap Doraemon. Of all the places in the world to take him, he ends up in Ichinohe, where a group of schoolchildren find him. Then Nobito and company (including 4 girls who simultaneously play Shizuka) use the magic door to find him. But the kidnappers won't return him, unless they can answer some questions. Each time they get a question right they get a clue- a letter (or rather a syllable, because the Japanese alphabet is syllabic), but they miss the last question and so they have to do the town dance around the gym to get Doraemon back!

And by the way, the word they had to get was "to-mo-da-chi", the Japanese for friend.

I seem not to have any pictures o the second grade play. I found it hilarious, and I think it summarizes the Japanese take on Western religion and secular holidays.

There were 4 angels. They were happy in heaven until the Head Angel came along and blew them- yes, with wind- out of heaven. Why? Because they hadn't brushed their teeth! So they got blown to Ichinohe, and they saw the children decorating a Christmas tree and hoping to see Santa Claus. So they decided to call Santa and get him to come to Ichinohe, but they got his answering machine.

Being good little angels, they really wanted to give the kids their wish, so they decided to dress up as Santa and 3 reindeer! Then they summoned the children to the school in the middle of the night to meet Santa. When they did magic, they all had to shout, "Cupid Power!" I was absolutely dying!

When the children get to school, they start to freak out, because Santa Claus is there. They speak to him, and he answers in English. They think Santa is smart for being bilingual! Then someone asks where the presents are. The angels faces fall. They'd forgotten all about presents.

Then God arrives and he's hopping mad! (God, by the way, was played by the principal- who'd also already played an angel in May at Sports Festival!) God tells the children that Santa Claus is inside of all of them, and he makes the angels wish the children back home. "Cupid Power!"

The festival at my other school was relatively normal. It's a small school. Only 31 kids in 6 grades. For me, the highlights were first grader, Nanami's impression of an old lady and the fact that 26 of the kids were in the taiko (Japanese drum) band.

After the bunkasai, there was a mandolin player who sang and played, and had her songs interpreted by a deaf-mute. It was totally random, but there is nowhere in the world more random than that school some days.

That's all for now folks. Here's hoping you have a happy day, and if you don't, just scream, "CUPID POWER!"


Ree said...

Thank-you ! I have been searching off and on for " Albert and Sydney" for a few years now. Having the proper name of the show helps but I still can't find any copies in english ! If you have any leads please share them ! Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Hi! I was looking for more info for the lost Albert and Sydney version of Doraemon, and I came across this blog from the Lost Media Wiki and the Doraemon Wiki. Do you have any more information about Albert and Sydney?

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