At the end of June, Tsuruoka Chuou High School (Peter's school) held its annual "gakusai" or school festival. It's something the kids talk about all year long in anticipation, so Peter went into it expecting great things.
This was the scene at the opening of school festival. The poster in the background is the crowning achievement of the festival preparation. Two students in silly hats spoke for a while.
After a performance by the Atsumi High School taiko (drum) ensemble, the students counted down to the opening of gakusai. "San... ni... ichi..." Two students pulled ropes to open up this banner and accompanying confetti.
Then the festivities began. Peter walked around to check out what was going on. Back in the gym, there was a singing competition. Bands played later--and some of them were actually really good.
Arm wrestling was taking place in the Common Hall where the students enter in the morning. The facilitators of the event are going over the tournament chart here. Spectators are gathering on the floor.
Here, two warriors get ready for battle.
While watching arm wrestling, some of Peter's students stopped by and snapped some pictures. The girl to Peter's left is Kana, one of the best English students. The other three... he doesn't know who they are (Kana's friends).
Some of the homerooms were running exhibitions. In one homeroom, there was a display of traditional crafts from Shonai. This is traditional clothing with examples of popular needlework patterns.
These are a traditional wedding charm. Clams symbolize marriage because the two halves of a clam fit together perfectly, and, once separated, they can never find another perfect fit.
Here are more students, this time dressed in costume on the second day of the festival. On the right are Saki and Kayo (both a little crazy). The girl on the left, Peter doesn't know.
This was one of the displays made by homeroom classes to advertise what they were doing for gakusai. This class made different kinds of yakitori (chicken on a stick, like a kebab).
The food stalls were all outside. To make the handling of money easier, everything is on a ticket system. Here you can buy tickets for food items. The gentleman on the far left side of the picture is Kazuhisa-sensei, one of Peter's friends at the school.
Here are the food areas. There was all sorts of traditional Japanese outdoor food (yakitori, yakisoba, okonomiyaki... lots of "yaki" because it means "grilled") and not-so-traditional food like hot dogs.
The first-year students had various games and services going in their homeroom classes. In 1-6 class, Peter got a lemon footbath.
And all the students took pictures of Peter taking a lemon footbath with their cell phone cameras... so he snapped a shot back.
Another class was offering a game where you try to scoop goldfish into a cup. The challenge is that the scoop is made with thin paper. If you're not very careful and very fast, the paper will rip.
Peter also participated in a school event. There is a Japanese television show called "gakkou ikou" or "Let's Go to School" where a crew goes to various schools, and students from the school shout random nonsense about themselves. Some students at Chuou decided to emulate the show. Peter was recruited to shout some things himself--in Japanese. It was all very entertaining and embarassing. This pictures shows the window where the students and teachers shouted from.