Today was possibly the biggest and most important day of the year at Wakakusa Kindergarten: the annual Kindergarten Sports Fest ( Undokai ). This is the day when all of the parents (who either never visit the school or usually only come to the school long enough to drop off or pick up their kids) get to come out and see the kids perform in a host of competitive and non-competitive performance sports events alike. It’s crazy how big this thing was: at the Kindergarten alone, there are over 400 kids, all of which were performing in some way or another. Add to that their family members who came out to see them, and you end up with somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 people. That’s 1/10 of the total population of Funehiki. This was a big event, both for Wakakusa as well as Funehiki-town and the city of Tamura.

And of course, true to form, we got to participate in this crazy event! For one thing, we marched out onto the grass with the rest of the kids, sat through 25 boring minutes of introductory speeches, and then performed the Animal Dance (yes, it looks as silly as it sounds) in front of thousands of people. We played a relay game along with the other important, honored guests (like PTA board members) that involved fishing a bag of potato chips out of a dry kiddie pool and then running around. And toward the end, we got to participate in some serious adult footracing–the parents’ relay race. That was intense!!! We’ll probably be sore tomorrow–but we came in second, so it was worth it. And due to the language barrier, we basically had no idea what we were doing in every single event. Ah, the adventure of it all…

Guess what comes next… You got it–pictures! Enjoy!

Kindergarten undokai 1

Is this a cool shot or what? Look at all those little munchkins … It’s enough to make you want to run around and scream and play crazy sports games all day ’till you’re so tired you can’t think. So cute!

Mike & Mr. Maki

Cool male bonding shot of Mike and Encho-sensei . They couldn’t talk for very long because he was a busy man, but he did have enough time for some precious photo opportunities. Lis (being Lis) surprised him by kissing him on the cheek while they were getting their picture taken! The poor guy was so embarrassed; he was completely speechless and shuffled off as fast as he could! It was classic. But to his credit, he was a good sport; he laughed really hard at the goofiness of it all. Amazing man…

Kindergarten undokai 2

You just gotta love the parachute …and you gotta love the cute kids that are making it fly!

Kindergarten undokai 3

And speaking of cute kids, check these little tykes out. Note especially the one little boy in the green hat that saw us taking pictures of him and decided to make a special face for the camera…

Kindergarten undokai 4

The closing ceremonies . Look at all those hats! Cute, cute, cute!

Whew, what a day. Loads of fun. Can’t wait to do it again next year!

-Mike & Jen