ひゃくにん むかで きょうそう
hyakunin mukade kyousou
two-tailed ghost cat from Ghost Watch
old Japanese sea shanty
Everyone stands at attention looking west. As the sun begins its descent from zenith, the flags flying at our school grounds follow suit and make their way down the poles. Japan's national anthem plays solemnly over the PA system. When the last note finishes, it echoes off the mountains and reverberates through town, hanging in the air for one last moment. Our 体育大会 has come to a close.
Sports Day is an annual mainstay of Japanese school life, held at every elementary, middle, and high school in Japan. Some of the details vary from school to school, such as the time of year the ceremony takes place (some areas observe it in the midst of spring, while the majority celebrate at the dawn of autumn). But others are rather common, such as group presentations or the obstacle course relay. Finally are the events nearly universal in their practice across Japan: there will be marching, there will be foot races, and there will be ラジオ体操.