Eight hundred and eighty-nine days have passed since my return from years of life in Japan and even now a random notion or sight of some small mikado-like doodad plunges me suddenly back again into memories and yearnings for Tokyo. Time perhaps has the power to erase many things but if that be true the process is delayed in my case.
Several days ago a friend in Tokyo sent me a movie made by the students in his tenth grade homeroom class at Kôsei Gakuen, a private junior-senior high school of all boys. In writing to me, Ken explained that his students made the movie specially for the annual cultural festival held over one weekend in September. The simple mention of this festival was enough to set my mind overflowing with a thousand images of those yearly festivals, events I attended dozens of times and in some cases participated in. Chocolate covered bananas, haunted houses, paper plates loaded with noodles or hot dogs, rock bands, art exhibits, concerts, and for one weekend students free to die their hair, wear hip hop fashions and get a little wild, with no harm done. This sort of autumn festival is a long tradition for all schools in Japan, kindergarten to university and provides students with an opportunity to show off their school to family and friends. It also provides a financial bonus for the student council, since a portion of all earnings from sales of food and drink are funneled into the council’s treasury. But the best part about these festivals is that students do every bit of the planning, preparation, shopping and management on their own, with only small advice and guidance from the teachers.
The movie below is student made from start to finish and probably was not too difficult for what their teacher calls ‘digital natives.’ You’ve heard it before—fifteen year-olds these days can do anything with computers and cameras. Take a look at the movie made by the students of tenth grade class 1-B at Kôsei Gakuen.
At the 1:28 time mark, you will see five lines of Japanese writing narrated by one of the students. He is giving the viewer an intro to the story, in English something like…
‘Seeing a stick figure suddenly appear on the blackboard, a student peels the figure off, crumples it up and throws it away, but the figure returns as a vengeful devil and attacks the student.’
Have a look. The setting is in the classroom, hallways and area outside. It offers a very good look at the typical Japanese classroom, hallways and student uniforms.