Fun and games in the style of a Japanese undokai

In 1964, something very special happened here in Japan: the Olympics was held for the very first time in the world outside of North America or Europe. This was a really big deal for the world and especially for Japan, the whole world focused on Japan for a few weeks, and saw how wonderful it is!

A lot of the roads that we drive on and the subways we ride on were built especially for all of the thousands of people who came to Tokyo to be part of the Olympics.

Since Japan’s summer is so hot, they decided to start the summer Olympics a bit later than usual—the Opening Ceremonies were on October 10. Ever since then, to remember how important the Olympics were to Tokyo and to Japan, October 10 has been a National Holiday, Sports and Exercise Day, to remember this great event and to encourage people to be active and healthy. Now we celebrate it on the Monday closest to that day.

At schools all over Japan, children practice for and participate in their school’s undokai, a Sports Day. They have all kinds of events, and will sometimes practice for weeks in advance.  At ASIJ, we have our own unique version of the undokai that’s less competitive and gives the kids a chance to try out some of the Sports Day games.

On October 10, elementary school students enjoyed games such as a big ball relay, bean bag toss, and tug of war organized by the Japanese teachers. This year grade five students led the undokai by making an opening speech as well as explaining each game in Japanese and English. Not only was it a lot of fun but it also was a chance for students from different cultural backgrounds to learn about this great Japanese holiday. It also held special meaning since the announcement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo! (Sumino Hirano, ES Japanese)