School Cultural Festivals
Every September or in October, students across Japan at all levels take part in a school Cultural Festival. Known as the bunkasai at the junior high schools and undoukai at the elementary schools, the Cultural Festival is an opportunity for personal expression and also fosters school pride. Similar to Open House night in the United States, parents in Japan also visit their children’s schools to chat with the teacher, but more importantly to see what their children have been learning. However, the Cultural Festival is much more of a festive event than an Open House night and takes place all-day. At my junior high schools, the event was held indoors in the gym. My elementary school held their event outside, creating a more relaxing atmosphere where families set up picnics during the lunch break. The highlight of the Cultural Festivals are the performances, which include concerts and plays. These are performed by individual volunteers or by various school “clubs,” such as the dance club, the brass-band club, and the drama club to name a few.