SPORTS DAY - UNDOKAI

11:44 AM |

Every year, at the end of Summer, students in Japan participate in a Sports Day or UNDOKAI in their respective schools. This year Undokai for Hikari's kindergarten was on October 22, 2005. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives, all came to see these kindergarten students in action. There were a lot of attractions: exercising, dancing, singing, etc. Each class performed different kinds of attractions. Even the parents and other family members also participated in the games.

The students from all levels had been practicing their songs, exercises, dances, two months before the Undokai. Hikari also had been practicing what he was supposed to perform. Often at home we found him singing (songs that we didn't understand), humming (vocab that we didn't recognize), dancing (dances that we found really funny). Unfortunately, we couldn't help him much because most of the time we had no idea what he was doing.... The only thing that gave us a slight idea what he was doing at that time came from Papa's discovery during his Obento-assignment every afternoon. See, Hikari's school actually provides lunch for its students everyday. The problem is they often don't have a clue what's going to be served before it's served. Therefore, they can't tell us whether there's Butaniku (pork) in the lunch set. So, every day, Mama cooks for Hikari's lunch, and every afternoon, Papa dutifully delivers the lunch box for Hikari to school. While he was doing this, Papa often watched what the students were doing: what they were singing, dancing, exercising, etc. After that, Papa started to follow Hikari's dances at home and that gave Hikari more encouragement.

In the morning of the Undokai,
the school had been beautifully decorated. Then, the students gathered at the school yard. First activity: they exercised, with music and signs from the teacher. To our surprise, these students were easily managed. They stood in line and did the instruction without trouble. They were a very good team, and for children of ages 3 to 5, this is AMAZING.

Now, in Wakaizumi kindergarten, there are 5 classes: yellow (momogumi- the lowest level. Momo means peach), red (akagumi), green and pink (midori gumi), and blue (aogumi- the highest level). Hikari is in the lowest level, the class of three-years-old. In this class, there are only TWO students: Hikari and Keita-kun. We always find that fact amusing :) Look at those momo-gumi students on the picture above. Two peaches of Wakaizumi kindergarten. Always together.

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These two peaches even have one special teacher: Mrs. Takahashi, the senior teacher. She looks after them, teaches them, plays with them, nurses them. She is Hikari's and Keita's mother at school.
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In this Undokai, Hikari got a part as a ladybug with red wings at his back. He danced with other students in momogumi and akaigumi. Mama also danced with him. He was a very good dancer. He could remember all the movements and the songs, and he danced very proudly.
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And then there were games like throwing balls into a basket, dancing with flags, tossing a baloon, dancing with a kind of 'parachute', etc. There were also several games that the students did with their parents. Hikari had fun 'working' together with Papa. Their games were very simple, yet very entertaining for children. The materials they used also very simple: colored papers, cartons, baloons, plastic bottle, milk container, flags, fans, etc. but they were made creatively and beautifully by the school staff and the PTA (Parents-Teachers Association).
The school also created some games for the family. Mama participated in a kind of 'makan kerupuk' game (they changed kerupuk with bread), and Papa took part in the tug-of-war.
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When Hikari and Keita-kun got really tired, their Sensei was there to take care of them. Since the two are the smallest and also the youngest, most of the time the bigger students cheered them by saying "Gambare, Hikari-kun!" (Break a leg)
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At noon, the parents set up our picnic mat and on it we spreaded food for lunch brought from home. We were fasting on that day, but we got a lot of food from other parents to bring home:)
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It was really a wonderful day. Papa and I got to see Hikari performed, and it really made us proud. We had new friends, too. Mama met my wonderful friend, Kudo-san (the mom of Hikari's friend: Ryoya-kun) again. We hadn't met for some time after Mama moved to the dorm. The other parents were also friendly and helpful. We didn't feel like strangers at all.

All of the games that were held also surprised us. At home before, we thought the games would be like a competition, where kids compete against each other. It turned out that the games made everyone a winner. It didn't matter if one kid finished second, because no one was called up front to be tittled the first winner, second, third, and so on. Everybody got presents, and praises. The games only required the students (and their parents) to do their best, AND to have fun. There was so much lesson for the students (and the parents) to grasp in one day. The best thing of all this, the lesson doesn't need a classroom and a book.

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