1. Share
    Live tweeting my school’s #culturefestival starting now.
  2. The school culture festival was rehearsed for months. On my own, I put in about 9 hours of overtime over the past two weeks, with plans for the event dating to Dec. 1. The kids were even more intense, staying after school every day until 7 or 8 p.m.

    It’s an enormous, two-day-long undertaking. Day one is at the school, with culture clubs setting up fundraising rooms and showing off their accomplishments over the year: There’s a tea ceremony room, a calligraphy room, etc. You get the picture.

    Day two, however, was held in a theater downtown. The theater was pretty nice, and between the kids and parents there were easily 700 people in the auditorium, settling in to a six hour performance of student entertainment.
    We don’t do school plays, at my school; we have culturefest once a year. And then, it seems, it’s out of everybody’s system.
  3. Share
    Student-made film re: theater rules includes a photo of a vacuuming raccoon with a line through it. #strictlyprohibited #culturefestival
  4. It’s nice that so many aspects of the performance were student made. That includes the video loop about how to behave during the show, which was played on repeat as the parents entered the theater. Alongside standard stuff like no talking, chewing gum, or using cell phones was stuff that 15-year-old boys in Japan find amusing, such as “no having relay races in the aisles.”
  5. Share
    Here comes the orchestral AKB48 medley! Complete with trumpet solo. #culturefestival
  6. AKB48 is a pop group with 48 girl singers. They’re everywhere. The trumpet solo was somewhere in the middle of “Heavy Rotation,” easily the “Hey Jude” of Japan for this generation. Here’s a bunch of dudes making fun of the video.

  7. Share
    Barack Obama life retrospective slideshow set to a country song about divorce #culturefestival
  8. Most of the time people don’t understand the lyrics to English songs, which can lead to a lot of perplexed ear injuries in foreigners caught by F-Bomb shrapnel in shopping malls and school dance practices. I have no idea what the song was behind the Barack Obama life retrospective, but it consisted of a woman pleading for the man to stay.
  9. Share
    Calligraphy performance using black lights! It’s like disco bowling, with kanji! #culturefestival
  10. Calligraphy performances get a rap for being boring. One of my students outraged a teacher, a calligraphy fan, by saying that calligraphy is “just drawing letters.” But, to be fair, that’s kind of what it is.

    That said, there’s a crazy taiko drum element, plus really rhytmic line drawings; the end result can be pretty hypnotic even in a traditional setting. But this was cool: Black lights made the traditional calligraphy paper glow, and then the calligraphy girls would cut through the paper with thick, black ink. I’d have loved to see other colors used.
    Heads up to struggling calligraphers: Take a nod from the disco-bowling craze.
  11. Share
    A teacher promised karaoke; it seems her vision of karaoke involves light shows and 5 back-up dancers… #culturefestival
  12. So these two kids came out in suits and started singing to a pre-recorded CD. Which is sort of karaoke-ish. But really, it’s more like singing. Especially when you factor in the disco lighting and back up dancers. I did not look at it and say, “It’s kind of like karaoke.”
  13. Share
    I am Promised more singing, dancing in the second act, less slideshows… #culturefestival
  14. The culture festival is also a chance for students who did something cultural to talk about it. The result of this is about 1,000 slideshows about traditional farming.
  15. Share
    OMG curtain rises, 17 kids dancing around to “Beat It.” Michael lives forever in Japan! #culturefestival
  16. Seventeen kids in white gloves, might I add.
  17. Share
    OMG sketch comedy! Some ladies bossing a maid around. In my head it’s a “Downton Abbey” parody. #culturefestival
  18. This is certainly where the event took a turn toward the surreal.
  19. Share
    Kid in a pink onesie and rabbit ears just came out to rapturous applause, now a student choir is singing about it. #culturefestival
  20. Share
    Kid in a tracksuit eats a banana. Chorus rises, sings an Irish drinking song out of key. Not making this up. #culturefestival
  21. There’s a culture out in Japan that I don’t, and will perhaps never, get to see. This culture is firmly the land of the 15-year-old boy. It is on television channels that I cannot find, in a language I cannot speak, with a dense self-referential kind of humor that I don’t care to start penetrating.

    If there is a rational explanation for these events somewhere out there, I don’t want to know them. I want to preserve them like Yoko Ono artworks in my mind: Inexplicable, kind of crazy, but mostly just fun.
  22. Share
    Follow up to sketch comedy is a PowerPoint presentation about oxygen. #culturefestival
  23. And back to it.
  24. Share
    Kids doing that thing where they lean backward and scream about gratitude. Do you guys know what’s up with that? #culturefestival
  25. No one on Twitter could answer this, or, no one cared. But there’s a common thing – you see it at graduations, too – where the kid leans back and screams his vocal chords to shreds, thanking the teachers and the audience, until you just can’t stand to hear him do it to his voice anymore.
  26. Share
    We’re watching a nostalgic video about the first day of the #culturefestival. It was two days ago.
  27. Ah, the memories.
  28. Share
    Alright that’s that. Hope you had as much fun at the #culturefestival as I did.

You can find me on Twitter at Owls_McGee, or on Facebook at This Japanese Life.

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3 Responses to #CultureFestival

  1. Rora says:

    good blog post format!

    also I keep meaning to tell you, you need to watch “bakatono” (“foolish feudal lord” – nuff said right?) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sI82Jy9iio

    • owwls says:

      The idea of a Foolish Feudal Lord makes me uneasy. That said, did you know Andy Warhol was on “The Love Boat?” Because “Bakatono” makes me think of Andy Warhol being on “The Love Boat.”

      Warhol didn’t have a spitting goose, though.

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