My apologies to everyone who has wondered why I don’t post anything about teaching on here. I have talked about the grand traveling adventures we have, and some less grand everyday adventures, but I’ve neglected to share about what is perhaps one of the craziest adventures of all: teaching. So for this post I will give a bit of a window into the Japanese high school life. Granted, this is no average day (or week) in the life, but it was definitely a fun few days…
Possibly one of the best, if not the best, events in Japanese schools is the annual culture festival. With their classes and/or clubs, the students do performances, host events in their classrooms, display things they’ve made, and sell festival food. Most of the teachers are pretty involved too, and this year I was part of two different performances. In one I was a vocalist for the teacher’s band performing “We Will Rock You,” and in the other, on my birthday no less, I donned a red dress and danced alongside other teachers to the Guitar Mandolin club’s rendition of a Japanese children’s song, “Maru Maru Mori Mori.” Here are some highlights from the festival:
On the first day, the school band started off the show, which involved, among other things, the boys’ baseball team donning girls uniforms (with VERY short skirts) and doing a dance. Science fact: guys in Japan love cross-dressing.
After that the teacher’s band took away the show. For my part, we did a rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
The next day, for part of the Guitar Mandolin club’s performance, myself and several other teachers donned costumes and did a dance. Here’s the original dance on YouTube, in case you’re interested. We started off trying to dress like the original kids, with girls in red dresses and guys in shorts with a bowtie, but it went kind of downhill, as you can see from our group photo:
Regardless of how silly our dance was, the kids loved it, and I love the Guitar Mandolin club, as they are super talented. After my performances were over, I could finally relax and enjoy the rest of the festival. I watched the third year class performances (they compete for best performance, and some of them can get pretty creative, mixing dance and story). There were guest comedians, student bands, the hip hop dance team, and a taiko group from the local special needs school. The best part was when the comedians asked the audience who was the most popular boy in school, then they brought him up on stage, and asked the audience again (the school is about 90% female students) who had a crush on him. A couple of my first year girls raised their hand, and were brought on stage to publicly confess their love to him, in exchange for a signature card. His response was priceless: “let’s be friends.” Ah, young love.
My school has a lot of creative clubs, from Ikebana (flower arranging) to Shodo (calligraphy), and illustration and art clubs. Here are some of the exhibit highlights:
Last but definitely not least: food and activities!
All the classes and some of the clubs had food and activities prepared for the last day of the festival. Some of the classrooms had been transformed into “Horror houses,” fair-style game rooms, a fortune telling room, an instant photo booth-style room, and even a balloon room. My first stop of the day was tea ceremony.
After tea ceremony I headed to the food. There were a lot of different options, mainly traditional Japanese festival stuff: yakisoba, ramen, franks, karaage, and okonomiyaki. But there were a few more interesting ones too. Tropical juice was my favourite, it had little jellies in the bottom kind of like bubble tea. However, the booth with my favourite marketing was the franks, or “The Furanku.” They had the coolest poster, and a signboard that made their homeroom teacher their mascot.
After I had my stomach happily full of food, I took a stroll down the homeroom hallways to check out the activities. Some of the horror houses were pretty creative; the most creative and disturbing one was, in my opinion, the Lady Gaga Horror House. I wasn’t the only one who thought this, as they actually won the prize for best classroom activity. As you entered, you were plunged into darkness. Loud Lady Gaga music blared, and the only things you could see as you felt your way through the maze was what had been illuminated by small lights for you, such as discombobulated, bleeding barbie dolls, and the occasional “ghost” in a Lady Gaga wig jumping out to scare you, touch you, and otherwise make you feel very uncomfortable… It was possibly the most horrifying experience I’ve ever had in a Japanese classroom.
Well, that’s about all I have for pictures. Since I can’t put pictures of students on the internet, I have pretty limited selection, but you get the idea! I worked very hard during the four days of the festival, singing and dancing and eating and screaming in fear. See, teaching is fun!