Experience the Fun and Hype of the Autumn Annual Sports Festivals

  • The Autumn season is here and many schools are holding their annual sports festival (undokai 運動会). The entire school and the community, particularly the teacher-advisers and students are pushing hard to create a well organized and fun sports festival. Strenuous rehearsals are completed several times a week at the start of September and even more frequently as the day of the festival draws nearer.

    Everyone looks forward to the big day, which usually falls on a Saturday or Sunday. With all their strength, power and agility, children perform in various sporting events that will brighten up your day when witnessed live in action.

    Oodama okuri (大玉送り)

    This is an extremely fun and exciting sports festival event that will make you tingle and shout. Literally, “oodama” means a giant ball and “okuri” means to send. Students are divided into teams (two-four) and are given a giant ball (colored according to their team), which they have to push with their hands above their heads, starting from the front line to the back, then to the front again in the quickest possible time. Here’s a video to see an example of how fun it is.

    Tama ire (玉いれ)

    Another fun event that uses a ball, tama ire (ball-toss game) requires speed and accuracy. To explain, “tama” means ball and “ire” means to enter, it is a game where balls (usually made of cloth) are thrown into a basket on a high pole within a specified time. The team that has more balls in the basket wins. Watch the video here.

    Mukade (百足)

    “Mukade” means centipede. It’s not a game using the creepy centipede bug, so don’t be scared. It is a centipede race. It is a running contest where students in the same team form a line or two and tie their legs together and run. Coordination and timing are very important in this game. Just imagine running fast with one of your legs tied to someone else’s leg. Watch the video here.

    Taifu no me (台風の目)

    The mechanics of this game is first, a group of students from a team carry a pole and then run as fast as they can and must rotate on a barrier twice, like the eye (me) of a typhoon (taifu). I think that this is the only time that the word “typhoon” means fun.

    Kumitaiso (組体操)

    I consider this as the ultimate event in the Sports Festival. Kumitaisou is coordinated group gymnastics. It is breathtakingly awesome. It requires strength, concentration, coordination, teamwork and balance. Kumi (組み) means group, tai (体) means body, and sou (操) means to maneuver. Watch the video and see for yourself.

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