The Elementary School Sports Day Tradition

The Elementary School once again unpacked the oversized oodama, prepped the beanbag nets and untangled the extra-long tug-of-war rope for a deep-rooted ASIJ and Japanese tradition. Elementary schoolers had a chance to try out some popular undokai (Japanese Sports Day) games in a unique and less competitive twist on the event.

Sports Day (Taiiku no Hi) began with the 1964 Olympics in Japan—the first ever hosted in Asia. As a result of Japan’s hot and humid summers, the Olympic Committee decided to start the Summer Olympics a bit later than usual, with the opening ceremonies 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, encouraging people to be active and healthy. Now we celebrate it on the Monday closest to that day.

On October 6, students and teachers broke out their red and white shirts to represent the two teams in our sports day games. Students paired up to roll oodama (giant inflatable balls) in relay fashion, took turns tossing bean bags wildly in tamaire and pulled with all their might in tug-of-war—all to boisterous cheers of “Fure, Fure, Akagumi” and “Fure Fure, Shirogumi” (Hooray, Hooray Red/White team!). Parents were invited to cheer on their children during these three popular undokai games.

Thanks to the efforts of the Japanese teachers for organizing undokai, everyone enjoyed the afternoon and opportunity to learn about this great holiday.