Thursday, September 18, 2014

Branden's first JHS undokai...

If you live in Japan, you know what a senpai is. : ) For those of you outside of Japan, a senpai is a person who has more experience than you and can show you the ropes, so to speak. I am lucky in that... I had a few special people when my kids were in yochien sorta take me under their wing, and help me out if I needed it. And also at the elementary school too. When Branden was in the first grade in elementary school for example and I know I shared this story before but.... A-chan who lives across the street, she is 2 grades older than Branden and an only child. Anyway while we were packing up the MPV all those years ago, to pack the car for the following day, anyway A-chan's mom came outside and said in a sort of hush tone, something along the lines... and of course I'm translating it but she said something along the lines of..."you can go and save a spot tonight if you want...I would really save a spot tonight versus tomorrow" Her gentle nudging and words of wisdom were like gold! We did go and save a spot that night and have been quietly doing so all of Branden's elementary school years, all thanks to A-chan's mom. Anyway they know Branden is a 7th grader this year and on the Thursday before Branden's undokai, as I was exiting my car, A-chan's mom was out checking the mail from the mailbox and she said again in a hushed tone..."you know..you can save a spot at the JHS, same as the elementary school...it's your choice though there's plenty of spots the day of... too though" Again...her words of wisdom...her daughter is a 9th grader this year. I listened and I heartily thanked her and told her, I would save a spot on Friday then. For what it's worth, her husband is the head of the school board for our town, so she knows the rules. Also, she has never told, "Boy next doors mom or R-kun or anyone else on our street" Just us....why us? I honestly don't really know. A-chan's mom is quiet, keeps to herself. I leave her alone, I don't over bother her, over talk to her...I leave her be, but always give her a smile. This picture is from Friday, the day before Branden's undokai. There were 4 people setting and saving a spot. Us, A-chan's mom and 2 of her friends. I left my house when A-chan's mom left her house. They were team white and we were team red, so we saved a spot on the opposite side of the field. When Bran and Noah and I were walking with leisure sheet and tent, we greeted each other, the senpai mom's and I. A-chan's mom greeted me first and her 2 friends followed suit.. right away. I smiled and head bowed and walked around the field. We set up this spot, the English teacher came out to where we were setting up and helped me unroll the leisure sheet. She's Japanese and very awesome, she's the other 7th grade sensei/teacher. We chatted, her and I, she chatted with Branden, she chatted with Noah, first time for her to see and meet Noah. And then she left and waved. And Bran and Noah and I set the tent up. Then we went home and we had cream stew (I made it in the day) and I prepped for the undokai lunch for the next day after we ate supper. Feeling quite happy and relaxed we had our spot. We would now *not* have to wake up at 5am or something to save a spot because we already had one. Phew. 

Though the JHS kids only had 1 week to prepare for the undokai, they did zip/nothing else all the week prior except take 1 test that covered their summer homework. But the rest of the week was undokai practice for the entire 8 hours or so each day, Monday through Friday. So it was quite an intense undokai prep. Saturday everyone was ready for the undokai. Rain was a worry on peoples minds, only because the forecast predicted rain and of course after going through all the cooking nobody wants a 1 day delay of sports day. Luckily for us all... it was not raining at all. In fact it was too hot that day. : ) Here is the field, tents all around the field. 

Since there is only 2 classes per grade, the 7th grade class A for example were team red and the 7th grade class B were team white. That type a thing. This was the 7th grade white team pictured here. See that kid in the front row, I am seriously kidding you not...he's the height of Noah. He apparently came from the other elementary school in our town. There are 3 short kids from our elementary school that now go to JHS here... but they looked liked giants compared to this kiddo, he's such a cutie pie. A real cutie. He's so tiny...so small. Just couldn't believe all these kids in this picture are all the same age and grade. Seriously not exaggerating this kid was Noah's height. 

The entire school. Our local elementary has what 190-220 kids at the most? But that's all 6 grades combined. This is just 3 grades at JHS, so the amount of kids is teeny tiny. 

All the kids doing warm up exercises! Hi Branden! Bran, twisting his body around. : )

Go team red!

In JHS, at our particular school at least...a lot more boys without shirts. At the elementary school nobody went without shirts at our local elementary school. But at the JHS...seemed the kids went without shirts quite a bit. Just a little observation. 

Clapping and cheering for team red and team white. 

This right here in this picture has never happened at our yochien or our elementary school either. This was a first and I really loved that they did this! See how team red is bowing in this picture? So team red bowed while the white team cheered for the red team. Okay don't laugh...but they were like empowering each other...building up each other. I loved this! So the red team bowed and the white team said...stuff like..."good luck today white team, you can do it!" I was like...holy goodness, I love this! This rocks! And then the red team did the same thing to the white team. At our local elementary school they usually say stuff like...fight-o!!!...meaning fight...win for their own team. But this was totally different, they cheered the opposing teammates. Anyway...I thought it was cool. : ) Building each other up, like that! You know what I mean, hopefully. 

Team red bowing. 

Just have fun...and remember we love you so much B!!! : )

On your mark...get set....go!

Also at the JHS, you can put a tent up to the front, pictured here. So you only need to save 1 spot not 2. You know how our elementary has a weird rule, you can only have a leisure sheet near the field, so most people have to save 2 spots, which is a space hog and nobody wants to do that anyway! Nobody took 2 spots thanks to this tents can go right up to the field. This race Branden came in 4th place or 5th place? Out of 6 people. : ) He's just not a runner, we know that already. And that's fine. Every time he finished a race, we smiled and waved. Wanting him to know...we are just simply...proud of you. That's all, no reason necessary. : ) 

This race on the other hand, Branden came in 2nd place, which surprised me. It was a race you had to pick a card and do what the card said. Roll a soccer ball into a basket. One kids card said..find a lady with a pony tail and finish the race with her! So a kid had to grab a mom with pony tail she was just a by-stander...she's actually Branden's classmates mom and a nurse in our town. Branden's card said, do nothing else just get to the finish line...so he booked it... to the finish line. Oh and that teacher in the pic with sun visor is the English teacher. : ) She's very nice. She helped me lay my leisure sheet down the night before, like I said, haha. : ) And I didn't ask her to or for help...she just wanted to talk, I guess. Cool. : ) 
Aha, I am getting ahead of myself here, this is the race Branden came in 2nd place. I took that pic up above before Branden ran it, when he was in line waiting his turn. Here he is....All 7th graders here...


Figures, our tent pole... photobombs Branden's pic! Hahaha. Sorry. : )

Branden next to the basketball with paper in hand saying go to the finish line...everyone else had them doing a few other things. Oh also..you had to name that flag to the country...Branden named the flag and country easily and the other kids had flags they could not identify. Good job Bran!

This was the 8th graders race with parents. However...as you can see by the looks of this little elementary school kid. A lot of kids ran with siblings instead of their parents. Is this an acceptable thing to do at our local JHS? It must be so, because I seriously saw about 10 elementary kids at different races partaking in races with their older sibling. This does not happen at our local elementary school. : ) 

Many cities have nice big police stations. Our town is so tiny and small it has 1 small koban/police box...it's actually a house, where he lives. He's the one and only guy for our town. He was invited to be in the undokai and be in a race. He also is invited and attends all elementary school entrance ceremony's, graduation ceremony's and JHS ceremony's as well. Noboru says...it must be a country side thing because zero police or officials showed up to his undokai in the heart of Osaka. Hahaha. : ) Our town mayor also attends. Hahaha. : ) 


This was a race, club versus club! You had to get yourself across and around the field...and only like 5 kids per each club were picked, not the whole team. You either had to volleyball yourself across the field..tennis yourself across the field. Meaning bouncing the ball with your hands, a racket. 

If you are in band, you have to play certain songs throughout the field. 

If you are in kendo you must fight your way across the field. : ) 

Do you see the 2 heads in the window in the background? They watched almost the entire undokai. : )
Newbies race!!! All 7th graders with parents or sibling/family member. 

Noboru is happy and smiling. He's usually always smiley in real life, just never in pictures, but I managed to get one. : ) And Bran is making a very interesting face here! Hahaha. : ) Aha, see a girl with hat in the background behind B? See, many younger siblings ran the race with their JHS sibling. 

Father and son! 

Wow, their team won, go figure! Good job Noboru and Branden! : )

Jump rope contest! 7th grade red team, versus 7th grade white team, versus 8th grade red and white team, and 9th grade red and white teams too. Whole school. : ) 

They all huddled in their own team/class. And got their jump rope on! : )

Go 7th grade red team...that's the team we were rooting for! : ) They came in 2nd place for 1 race. But were beaten in the end by a 9th grade team. : ) They asked for a rematch and they jump roped again and lost, but had a blast doing so. : )

Branden crouching down in the front row towards the far right.

Branden smiling at far right. My own personal observations about a JHS undokai in Japan, clearly. Again, I can only speak for myself and my own experiences but in any case here they are. Our elementary school undokai has a huge big half time show, big musical marching band type number. The kids practice for a long time with that. There is no/zero half time marching band type show at JHS. Or our JHS at least has none. Also at the elementary school parents are usually often walking all around the field for every race their child is in, trying to get that perfect shot/pic! Things just seem more relaxed at the JHS undokai. Parents basically all sat and chilled under their tent the entire time. And it was mostly about the races or sports, no huge fancy half time show. It still lasted length-wise the same amount of time. But it just seemed more chill at the local JHS undokai. After this JHS jump rope race, we all broke for lunch!

From top to bottom, we have rice balls, karaage (marinated really good all white breast meat Japanese style chicken nuggets), fruit platter, which is just super sweet huge dark purple grapes, apple and mikan. A salad. Dumplings, tamagoyaki, meatballs (these 3 things come premade from the store, the dumplings, meatballs and tamagoyaki) and macaroni salad, I made. We brought quite a few big bottles of drink. Sports drink, 1 jasmine tea, 1 straight tea and a few 500ml sodas, we never seem to have enough drinks, no matter how much I bring. : )

30 minutes for lunch and not really a lot of time. The cute plates and cups I bought from the Daiso/100 yen. However the cups are hella weak and we doubled the cups mid lunch, they didn't leak mind you, but they were bulging under the cup, so looked super weak. The plates are fine and normal though. 

It was melting hot. Branden eating and trying to cool down some. 

Noah's melting face too. We were all so hot. Like I said..I had to pop an Advil during lunch, I had the absolute worst throbbing headache and I usually don't get headaches all too often maybe 1-2 a year tops...I wondered if it was pre-heat stroke or what. It was just temperature wise superly hot that day. 

My meal. 

We also had cake. I'd say 90% of this entire school came from/originated from our particular shogakko/elementary school. The other school is super small population wise. So we all felt at home. Saw faces we hadn't seen in a year or two. Hisashiburi (long time no see!!!) : ) And also met and greeted our new friends/classmates parents too and let them know...hi friend/let's be friends. ne~. : ) Okay so that was lunch...

The 7th grade boys about to run shirtless across the field. Branden told me, many of his classmates were dreading this part. hahaha. Could be the whole every one's in puberty time or I don't know why. : ) Branden doesn't/didn't care at all. He's a swimmer... so he's used to spending 2 hours in sports/competitive type/racer swimming trunks for crying out loud....so it's truly NOT a big deal to him at all. But yeah,, he said some boys were not looking forward to this part. hahaha. : )

Branden's front row, 2nd to left. 

About to run on the field....

Branden and his teammate are the front 2...

Branden's feet! Hi Branden's feet! lol. : )

That kids taller, but Branden's way stronger, so that kid got on B's shoulders. 

Next they teamed up with a 3rd kid. Keita-kun is super short, so he worked great on their shoulders. 

Fantastic balance K! : )

Good job all of you! : )

Boy next door, and Branden holding up another kid that was not K. 

I am so proud of you, B! Now they were about to play a very scary game of chicken. Where you go and try and knock the other team down and splat on the floor!

One part of me says...this is an old game that has been played for years at Japanese undokai. So chill!!! Tradition and all that. But my American voice inside me, meanwhile says...."Hey, I didn't sign a consent form for this!"..."what about a head injury, am I the only one worried about a possible head injury here?!" "Statistically speaking, how many kids get injured playing this yearly?"..."would you let the girls play this?"..."my child is a boy, but yes I still worry, just as much!"...so yes a million things are going through my mind. 

In yochien they simply ripped each others hat off. Here, they were fighting and pushing and it's getting far too rough and tumble for me to feel 100% comfortable. 

That team pushed and knocked this team down and dirt kicked up...you could literally hear the bodies fall down. Sounded like bowling pins getting knocked down and not in a good way! You hear groans. I am meanwhile wondering...is Branden okay? 

Close up....you see dirt kicked up...kids looked injured. That kid holding his hand up saying stop. I'm scanning my eyes around wondering...is my child okay? I love my child and I'd like him to go home in 1 piece and preferably not in a wheelchair due to injury from this! If you know what I mean. @.@ And would you believe they all got up and did it again. @.@ I can't imagine my kid playing tackle American football.. without helmet and shoulder pads and padding and safety gear. So yeah...this really freaked me out, as a mom! I tell ya! Fit to be tied people...fit to be tied! I looked calm on the outside...frazzled to pieces... on the inside during this 1 event.

About to do this again! This was the only part of the day...where I wasn't exactly too thrilled.The good news is, he didn't get a CAT scan or anything afterwards. @.@ But we did take Branden to the docs for an x-ray for his left foot the following/next Monday, 2 days after. Nothing is broke, but the doc doesn't want him to do PE for a week or two and he has inserts for his shoes to help with the pain in his left foot. @.@ Just a little too rowdy for my comfort level. : ) 

The girls were meanwhile standing and crying...yes I am not kidding, many were weeping during the whole chicken knock down thing. Granted it's not their fault, they are also going through the whole puberty thing, and many of these kids have been classmates for 6 years at least. They were worried and a little emotional. Heck...we all were worried. 

Another pick of the chicken fight. Holy goodness. 

Branden hanging out with his friends! How did Branden feel about the undokai? He said he loved it! He said it was a lot funner than his elementary school undokai. He also said, he didn't mind the chicken fight knock down match either! @.@ Which is good to know... because meanwhile for me.. it gave me a mini heart attack while watching. A lot of the time when they weren't having races, they were off to the side just kicking it with their friends! Branden has tons of friends so...he had a blast!

Here Branden is again...just cutting it up with his friends! He just had the best time! At elementary school if you are not racing, you must sit nicely in your seat. Here at our local JHS, they get to stand or chat with friends. 

Here the kids had an American style line dance and they danced it to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw". In Japan though, they call it..."Oklahoma Mixer" and the reason is because Mr. Shinkichi Tamaki who was a founder of the Japan Association of Teachers of Dancing (JATD) founded in 1929, knew the original dance of  the"Oklahoma Schottische." He tried to introduce the dance originally to elementary schools in Japan, but it was not suitable because the dance was just too difficult for kids. So he borrowed the music from "Turkey in the Straw" and made an easier dance along the lines of the Oklahoma dance, but more suitable for kids, but they still changed partners. Somehow most Japanese today... associate the music/song as the "Oklahoma Mixer" though the song is really in fact named something else entirely (Turkey in the Straw). : ) Go figure. : ) Also for what it's worth...Branden and Noah know that song, but only because they used to have a kids songs CD, and the title of the song was..."Do Your Ears Hang Low?" but same melody completely, lol. Look at Branden smiling and laughing in this picture you guys! A genuine heartfelt laugh! He's been having a really great time in JHS, oh...he is having himself a blast at JHS. : )

Branden laughing and dancing with his classmates, before they all switched partners again. 

Branden dancing with this girl...she's a nice girl! : ) 

Guess who won? Both teams did! A tie...seriously no joke! Both teams were happy though... nobody really cares too much who wins in JHS, just isn't the main goal of the day. The kids goal was to just do well....and have fun! They all did that! : ) Branden rode his bike to undokai and 98% of all kids did and that's because the kids had to dismantle the tents and get the field back to normal. While the parents all went home...so the kids all rode their bikes home together afterwards. I made sure to give Branden a 500 yen coin before we left...after it ended so he could buy a shave ice on the way home with his friends. It was only 300 yen each, so he brought me my change back.
Noah and I meanwhile bought a shave ice for the ride home. Noboru wanted an ice cream at 7-11, so that's what he bought along the way home. : ) You can put as many flavors on your shave ice as you want. I had cherry and peach. Yumm. Noah meanwhile put a billion different flavors on his and mentioned in the car he probably should have used less flavors. : ) Yes, I agree Noah! : ) Sometimes less is better with regards to flavors. : ) 

Cherry and peach. We went home and unpacked. We all took turns showering. We were all in our house shorts and house/comfy tees by the time Bran came home an hour later. Branden was dirty, dusty and sweaty on his forehead (he wears deodorant and antiperspirant and body spray so he smelled excellent though, lol...but he was dirty and so we sent him straight to the shower. We had karaage marinating in the liquid about half of it at home still...so while we weren't in the mood for chicken twice in 1 day...frankly I had been up since 5am that morning. I was exhausted...and we all were! So fresh hot fried chicken again was more than fine, we had extra salad at home and extra macaroni salad too and rice. We ate supper and sorta just vegged out watching TV. Time wise...Branden got home around 4pm-ish and took a shower we ate dinner around 4:30pm-ish and just enjoyed the rest of our Saturday evening...in the living room watching TV. Great movies on TV. Anyway...that was Branden's very first JHS undokai. It was fun...fun for the kids, fun for us parents (minus my headache). Very low key...no big huge half time musical show like at the local elementary school. Just a very relaxing day. We were glad it was over with. We were glad it was over...we all were. Branden was having a slight limp and problem with his left foot, like I said. But his spirits were high. He had a blast. And again nice to get 1 of the boys sports days knocked out of the way! Noah...yours is next and grandpa will be here for that! : )  I have been listening to you, play your music on your pianica all September, you have been practicing like crazy...I know you are ready and wanting to get it over with too! : ) Now...do you want sandwiches or karaage for your undokai obento? : )  Anyway that was Branden's undokai 2014! : )