Chikara wo awasereba donna koto demo dekiru
Field days were something we had in my elementary school in Suburbia. They weren’t really a thing in junior high or high school in Suburbia. By “not a thing” I mean that they did not exist. “Taiikusai” or “Sports Festival” are big things in Japanese Schools. If that weren’t enough, we had “Kyugitaikai” which can be translated into “ball sports competition.” As I have mentioned previously, I could not play ball sports if you were holding the Pumpkin Prince and Princess hostage.
That year, the 3rd year students played volleyball. I’d played volleyball in P.E. class in Suburbia, but see above about ball sports. Volleyball was volleyball. You served, you received, you tossed, and you spiked (if you were tall enough, which I was not) Some of the volleyball courts were outside. Since 5 classes x 3 years would be playing at the same time, we had to use all of the courts if we were going to finish all the games before sunset.
The night before ball sports day, it rained. And rained, and rained, and rained, and rained. And the sun came up the next morning, and I was thinking awesome, because, see above about my (lack of) skill in ball sports. The school grounds were covered with mud puddles. I was so sure fate had smiled on me that day.Still, I went to school in my P.E. uniform, just in case.
So we went into our classrooms, me delighted at our good fortune, the others less so, and our teacher came into the room and told us to get our cleaning rags (we all had cleaning rags for mopping the floors and kept them pinned with clothespins to our chairs, like this) and go outside. So we did. All 600 or so of us. Each class was assigned an area ,and we were all set to work with our rags and buckets. We were told to let the water soak into our rags, and then to wring out the rags into buckets, and to empty the buckets in the drains that ran through and around the school grounds.
To my dismay and disbelief, the collective efforts of 600 teenagers and 600 cleaning rags mopped up all the mud puddles on the entire schoolyard until it was dry enough to play volleyball and basketball. It was a prime example of the sentiment “together we can do anything.” I wished, though, that we hadn’t proven that sentiment that particular day in that particular instance. To this day, I don’t remember how our class did in that tournament. I am sure I played badly, but that was and is kind of a given. But the image of 600 students furiously mopping up mud puddles and wringing them into buckets has stuck to my brain like epoxy glue.