JapanJET Program

School Festival, Part 3: We are THESPIAN!! We are DANCER!!

school festival streamers

In this third and final post (see also Part 1 and Part 2) about my junior high school’s festival last month, I am going to talk about student involvement in planning the event and then launch into the last third of the school festival.


A big part of the school festival’s educational value is that students are responsible for much of the event planning. The student body is divided into three groups with different responsibilities. These include decorating, advertising, and running food booths for lunch. They work on this for a month or more in advance of the school festival.

This year, there are only 23 students in the school amongst three grades. That means a very small number of students to take care of a rather large number of things — both beforehand and on the day of. I was therefore conscripted to help hand out food at the food booths this year. I wasn’t able to attend many of the meetings beforehand to help prepare. However, on the day of it was just a matter of taking food tickets and giving food to the customers.

Cross-Grade Projects

After lunch were the grade-independent performances. Every year, the student body is divided into two groups that contain students from all three grades. One group does a play and one group does dance routines.


In some years, the students write their own plays. They didn’t do that this year, though. They had licensed a play called One More Pinocchio. It’s a very Japanese rendition of the Pinocchio idea. In it, three gods create a living wooden person, Pinocchio, and tell him that he has 24 hours to live. To extend his life another 24 hours, he just has to do one good thing.

However, every bad thing he does cancels out a good thing. At the end of 24 hours he just has to have more good things than bad things on his account. He goes through the play trying to do good, but when his 24 hours are up, he has done the same number of good and bad things. As a result, he goes back to just being plain ol’ wood.

One thing about the play group is that they always make their own sets and props, if the school doesn’t have or can’t borrow what they need. This year, they were really close to the wire with most of the props. They performed pretty well, though one person talked too fast and they made a few mistakes. I say they cut close to the wire with the props, but they kinda cut it close with everything. It was still good to watch, though.


The dance group normally finds dances they like on YouTube and copy those. This year, however, two of the 9th graders worked their butts off. They choreographed dances in a variety of styles for different music types and taught it to their fellows. The chain of dances was intended to tell a story about a girl, but I couldn’t tell you how well they did. I’ve seen plenty of dances that were supposed to tell stories and had no clue what any of them meant. This time was no exception.

The girls told us up front that they weren’t sure if their choreography was successfully getting the story across or not. From what I can tell no one else understood the story from the dancing, either. Still, though, I was really glad to see them making up their own dances instead of copying something. Whether anyone understood the story or not, the dances they came up with were really good and a lot of fun to watch.

That kinda concludes my coverage of the 2013 festival. I’ve used most of the pictures I took of the decorations for these posts, but there are a few more in the Flickr set. If I remember to get pictures of the calligraphy performances, I’ll put a post up with them later.

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