Monday, June 11, 2012

In Japan - Sports Festival (Undoukai)

Long overdue but yes our school organized an undoukai (sports festival) last Saturday. The games played in undoukai are rarely strenuous. I think other than the 100m relay, the rest are pretty much kind of fun games involving body movements.

The location was in Shinkiba, a gym called BumB. One thing I find a little troublesome about this place is that you have to enter the building with a clean, non-sport shoes, and then enter the gym area with proper sport shoes. Yup. Since the bathroom is outside the basketball court, you have to change your shoes into the non-sport shoes if you want to go to the bathroom and you have to switch back to your sport shoes as you re-enter the basketball court.

The undoukai began with opening speeches from the principal and the teachers in charge, as well as an oath by student representative saying that everyone will play a fair match. After that, everyone lined up on the basketball court to do a radio taisou. I'm not sure if there is an exact English translation for that but it's some sort of easy aerobic movements for warm ups. In Indonesian, it would be some sort of senam pagi. My teacher said that everyone does this at school so everyone is bound to know the movements.

We played a mini game before the matches started. Basically, when the principal blew the whistle, he would show us an instruction on a board of how many people per group we should form. For example, if the board says "7 people", then you will have to form a group of 7 with anyone, as long as you have 7 in a group, no more no less. Those who cannot form a group lose and will have to go back to their own seats. Sometimes you'll be asked to form as many as 30 people, and sometimes the instructions are gender specific, like "3 boys 2 girls".

The team was split into two groups: aka (red) and shiro (white). I was on the red team. Most games are split into matches between the red and the white team, while some games are class-specific. Either ways, if you're not playing, you should be supporting your team or your classmates.

If you Google "undoukai" or search this term at Wikipedia, you'll probably find variety of games that can be played. We played 4 games:

1) Dekapan relay
Dekapan (a short term of dekai pantsu, which means huge underwear) relay involves a pair running together while sharing the same huge underwear (it's not a panty; more like a pair of boxers I would say). It's easier when the runner is kind of slim because your whole body is supposed to fit into one of the holes. I participated in this relay, and it was actually not that hard to run in those boxers. Unless your running speed is very different from your partner's.

2) 100m relay
Just like a normal 100m relay consisting of 4 people in a team. A runner has to run a lap and pass the baton to the next runner. I'm a slow runner so I had zero confidence to participate. This 100m relay was a match against classes.

3) Tsunahiki (tug-o-war)
It has the same rules as tug-o-war, so I don't think I need to explain too much about this :)

4) Shougaibutsu relay (obstacle relay)

It's nothing like running the hurdles in track and field. Each team comprised of 6 members to compete in danboru goro goro, mekakushi relay, henkindai, and ball hakobu. And instead of passing a baton, we use a stash.

Danboru goro goro was especially very interesting. It's basically the rolling wheel that you'd normally see in a hamster cage, but it's made out of cardboard boxes. If you look at it from the outside, you'd see something like a tank's wheel or even a caterpillar crawling forward. Well, I didn't do it but it seemed very difficult to do. First, you can't see anything inside the cardboard wheel so it's hard to know where you are and which direction you're heading. Second, you have to crawl inside the box, so your hands and feet will hurt a bit.

Mekakushi (blindfold) relay involves a pair, one whose eyes are blindfolded and one whose job is to guide the blindfolded partner towards the next relay point. I was the blindfolded one. The distance was short and there were only 3-4 teams per relay, so it was easy to estimate where my partner was and which direction I should be heading. It was fun :)

Henkindai is basically a very narrow balancing bar. The bar is probably about 30 cm away from the ground. I've seen some who struggled with the bar but most people were able to clear the challenge in a few seconds.

Ball hakobu (carrying) also involves a pair. I thought you would be carrying a huge ball without dropping it. It turned out that the pair has to carry 4-5 basketball balls. Bigger people would definitely have bigger advantage in this relay.

Those were the main events, and after that, we headed towards a park nearby to have lunch together. I tried making fried pork rolls but seems like I used too much ume paste (it has a strong sour and salty flavor) and nagaimo (the white stuffs in the middle) is not something everyone had tasted before. LOL. But I'm glad I tried. It took me a long time to make these @__@

The event continued after the lunch, and there was a tug-o-war match between teachers. Around 3:30 pm the undoukai was closed with announcing the results of the matches (red team won and we got a huge trophy!!), and a closing speech.

It's really nice to be out there with your classmates not thinking about anything related to your studies, although I can feel that some people had zero motivation to participate. Perhaps it's an Asian thing not to be involved too much in sports-related activities and just focus on studies. I personally think it was really fun, though. It's been a while since I did something fun like this!


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