The fall is the traditional time of the year for Undoukai or Sports Day at Japanese kindergartens and primary schools. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it one of the highlights of the year for Japanese families. The children prepare for weeks. Moms fret over what to make for the picnic lunch. Dads show up early in the morning to help set up tents, flags, and equipment. The other reason to come early is to put your tarp down to claim prime real estate. You want to have a great view and a place in the shade. (I know of one family that spent an entire year strategizing the prime location for their family tarp after they ended up with a poor site at their first sports day.)
Here are some pictures from our recent kindergarten Undoukai. The kids worked really hard, not just doing the sports, but giving all the announcements, holding the tape at the finish-line, etc. There were events for the whole family, for Moms, for Dads, for Grandparents and siblings, too.
It was a great day, in spite of the rain! And our family is already looking forward to (not one but two) Undoukai next year.
In view of all of the energy and anticipation that goes into it, Sport Day is a huge deal in Japanese culture.