Year of Requirement Part 13
To this day, I do not understand the extent of emphasis on sports in education in Japan or the United States. I get that exercise is important, and that people who are good at sports and actually like sports should have the chance to take part in it, but for those of us who are less blessed, PE class is sufficient torture and should not be expanded into events such as ball sports day or sports festival. It should be taught, no, emphasized that for most people, athletic prowess will not translate into any social or financial status beyond university, if that. Unless you go to the Olympics and win medals, or become a starting player in a professional team and earn enough to pay all your bills on that alone, the only time you will win any admiration for your physical fitness is at your child’s preschool parents’ race.
“Taiikusai” was the annual sports festival, held because an annual ball sports competition was obviously insufficient mortification for us math geeks. This was more along the lines of a traditional field day, with relays and tugs of war and three legged races and kibasen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_fight and Botaoshi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo-taoshi Our school was unusual in that girls did kibasen. Being small(er) even in Japan, I was the top person, but fortunately no one in my group really wanted to aggressively attack anyone And even if they did, as the top person, I got to call all the shots. Like coxing! But unlike coxing, I called it so we stayed in the fringes of the battleground while the other girls got into scratchy fistfights over the bandanas tied around their heads. A bandanda saved is a bandana earned. Or something.
A distinctly Japanese phenomenon was the “folk dance.” It was like square dancing except the whole school danced in two or three big double circles, girls on the outside and boys on the inside (or maybe it was the other way around). It was the only dancing junior high school students in Japan would do on the school grounds, in fact, it was the only dancing junior high school kids in Japan would probably do with the opposite sex, period, so it was apparently a big deal whether you’d be able to dance with the boy/ girl you liked. The choreography always involved a limited but significant amount of hand holding, which was, of course, also a great big deal.
I’ve mentioned this previously, but I’m not ridiculously short in Japan, just plain short. I wasn’t the shortest girl in my class. I was the second shortest. I teamed up with the shortest girl in the class to run in the three-legged race relay. I don’t really remember how we did, which probably means we did well enough not to earn the hate of the rest of the class. I don’t really remember how my class did either. Just the weirdness of the folk dance, and gratitude that it didn’t rain the night before, like it did for the ball sports competition.