Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rushi in za sukai wizu daimondozu

Today at school I saw ikebana, a Michael Jackson impersonator, and multiple students in drag. It can only mean one thing: the school festival! These are the biggest annual events at Japanese high schools, and they're basically the only times the students get to show a little creativity. The main events take place up on the stage in the gym, where much singing, dancing, and theatrical performing occurs. Some skits were just plain inexplicable, such as the guys who wore skin-tight body suits and pumpkin masks while gyrating to an Outkast song. Other skits neared meditative performance art level. I could see the group of girls who created a giant frying pan whose skit consisted entirely of them playing the role of popcorn being popped performing at some Lower East Side theater right after a Marguerite Duras film.*

I was more than just a spectator this year, as I lugged my Wii video game system and various peripheral instruments to school so that the students could partake in a little Beatles Rock Band. You see it was the culture festival, so I exposed them to the current American culture of young people obsessively hammering away at plastic instruments in front of television sets for hours on end. I spent a lot of time Katakana-izing the words to a bunch of Beatles songs only to have absolutely nobody volunteer to sing. And I was so looking forward to hearing various iterations of "Haroo, Goodobai." The drums and guitar, however, were quite popular. Inexplicably, they assigned me to the same room as the library's book sale. At least the librarian was pretty enthusiastic about my extremely noisy activity. At one point I showed a student how to control the menus so I could hop out and attend the tea ceremony I had signed up for. I guess he didn't let anybody else play because by the time I returned he had gone from beginner to Ringo equal. I may not be getting very far with trying to teach students to speak in full English sentences in class, but I'm pretty sure they've got "press the green button" down.

*Film school nerd's note: please don't try to watch a Marguerite Duras film. It will almost make you long for the excitement of Warhol's Empire. That's right, I just explained a pretentious film reference with a slightly less pretentious film reference. Gotta use that degree somehow.

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