So I’m finally going to attempt to put into words what were probably the four most fun days of my life! After experiencing the Seiryo School Festival, I know that if I were to somehow urge my own school to replicate if only little of the events that were held during the festival…there would be absolutely nobody that wouldn’t be looking forward to school for at least 4 days every year!
The Festival kicked off on a Friday with a showcase of some of the amazing talent in the school. Different clubs performed for the student body and to say that I was completely and utterly blown away would be an understatement. There were performances by the Classical guitar club, the brass band, the school choir, the dance club, the shodo (Japanese Calligraphy) club and many more… it was hard to believe that these students weren’t world class professionals because I had not heard or seen anything like it before!
That afternoon we all gathered into the hall or should I say sauna because we had to take breaks every 20 minutes to go out to cool off (32 degrees was cool in comparison to the hall if that tells you anything).
We watched what I gathered was a comedy show that lasted about 4 hours. Despite not understanding most of the humour I did find entertainment in the 6th year boys dressing up in girl’s school uniforms and dancing around to single ladies!
The next day was when the festival was open to the public. All the school’s clubs got a classroom to hold their own events and visitors were free to walk around to see each club’s set up. I even got to see Karuta being played by members of the Karuta club (traditional Japanese card game where you need to memorise 100 poems and choose the second verse when the first is being read). My self confidence was knocked a bit though when I saw four year olds playing this complex game when I have trouble remembering what I had for dinner the day before!!
We also went into the astronomy club’s room who were doing an exhibit on the stars and telling people their names. I was shocked however when the Japanese people in my group (my host mother included) were able to give the name of the stars as soon as a club member pointed to one. Whether this is normal or not I still haven’t figured out, but one things for sure I don’t remember ever learning that the X star is part of Constellation Y for being a part of the Z series! Japanese people amaze me once again!
That Sunday was more or less a repeat of the last day so I had time to see even more clubs and events. This time a selection of the different bands in the school were giving performances and nevermind Oxygen or Electric Picnic…I had the same amount of fun if not more dancing along to the unbelievably talented musicians that Seiryo is apparently full of. That afternoon we headed for the Badminton club where you could play a game against a member, and well if you take into consideration the dedication and talent in all these school clubs it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I lost. Nevertheless thought it was so fun that I joined the queue again despite it being a 30 minute wait! (disclaimer…I lost…again ^ – ^ )
Monday was the final day of the Festival but by far the funnest. The morning consisted of the class choir competition, where every class in the school sang a song of their choosing (each class sounding like highly trained professional singers…I don’t know how they do it!) Before the competition began however, the school principal randomly asked me and another american exchange student to come up to the stage in front of roughly 1000 students and introduce ourselves. Now at 8:30 in the morning and completely unaware that you would have to do this…lets just say that whatever long hours I had spent studying japanese flew right out the window in that moment, so there I was, 2000 eyes staring at me, and all I could do was repeat the first three sentences I ever learned in Japanese (My name is Katie, I am 17, it is nice to meet you) The principal asked me a question then after and my answer for some reason got a laugh from my audience ( I still have no clue what was so funny but now I think it’s better not to know)
That evening was the Festival’s ending ceremony; The Firestorm. Basically there was huge Bonfire that all the students run around and dance around….there are huge hoses spraying water everywhere, mud puddles and sand. Everyone spraypaints their t-shirts before hand and gets as messy as possible.. sliding in the mud, running through water and tearing t-shirts. It was absolutely crazy but I enjoyed every minute! Yet another thing I put on my list of things we need to have in Ireland
So there you have the Seiryo School Festival. Of course I could go into more detail and have you reading for a few days before you’d see the end of this blog but for now I hope you got the jist of the unimaginable exciting time that was the festival!