Over the last weekend of September – 27th & 28th – the combined junior high/high school I work at had their annual 文化祭 (bunkasai). This is the annual cultural festival held at all schools in Japan. Every festival is a little (or a lot!) different. Our students put a huge amount of effort into our event. For them, it’s the most exciting time of the year! It’s great to see the school and community come together to celebrate the students – all 1,600 of them! School festivals are open to the public, and prospective parents as well as current parents are encouraged to visit the school to see what the kids have been up to. This year, over 10,000 people visited our school over the 2 days!
Every homeroom works together to put together something special in their classrooms or in the school grounds. Right after the summer vacation, the students get in full swing designing, planning and making decorations. And especially in the week leading up to the festival, the school hallways are a minefield of paint, cardboard, paper, scissors, and pens! Spirits are high as the students buzz around trying to finish everything on time!
Clubs are a huge part of school life in Japan. At our school, there are over 30 clubs for lots of different sports, cultural activities, music, sciences, etc. Almost all students participate in 1 or more club until they are in their final year of high school. There are so many talented kids at our school and the pictures below are just a snapshot of a few I enjoyed watching on the weekend.
I was SO impressed with the art put on show at this year’s festival!! In their regular art class, the 2nd-year junior high school students (14y.o.) had a project where they had to design a Google logo. I believe these were actually submitted to Google for a competition or something like that. It’s so awesome to see the different talents my students have in other areas (i.e. outside of English communication class) which I would otherwise not know about! I was also extremely impressive with the Art Club’s display – they had a special exhibition showcasing pictures using unusual techniques. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a picture made out of uncooked, flat pasta! I was blown away!
The final event on the final day is a massive after-party on the sports field! All the students look forward to relaxing on the grass, chatting with their friends, while different bands and dance groups give their last performances. This year, we were treated with a hilarious dance performance by three staff members. The whole school got behind them, cheering them on! It was a great way to end a fun but busy weekend!