Nov 24, 2013

Culture Festival (High School Edition)

Let's culture!

In the autumn, Japanese schools hold a bunkasai (culture festival). My junior high school was busy everyday preparing. Students created banners, practiced singing in a chorus, and created their own skits to perform on stage, while the teachers were arranging meetings to discuss precisely how all the parents should be seated and greeted when they came to the event.

As weeks passed and they were getting ready, I was invited to the technical high school across the street to see their bunkasai. While it's called a "culture festival," I didn't find anyone performing tea ceremonies or dressing in kimono. Instead they had marshmallow eating contests and had the genders switch clothing. What better way to celebrate Japanese culture than by cross-dressing?
The center guy in the tan coat was not only convincing,
he walks better in heels than I ever will.

There was a lot of dancing, too. It may surprise you that some of these dances are a part of "Japanese culture."

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Onto more traditional culture: taiko! There is a myth that long ago, the tip of the Noto Peninsula was approached by warriors coming across the sea from Korea. The villagers dressed up in grotesque masks and played taiko loud and aggressively. The would-be invaders thought they were demons, and retreated back to the sea.

The taiko player here played without a mask first, and he was all right, but when he put on the mask's "demon" persona, he played with intensity and dramatic gestures.

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I witnessed my first culture festival, and my own junior high school's bunkasai was right around the corner...



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If your country's schools celebrated a "culture festival," what would they do?

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