Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Aah...it's official...it's summer!!

Yes....I know...most of you have been out for summer vacation since March May or June, but for the kids here, the vacation started on Friday.

Summer vacation here....and summer vacation in the U.S......very different.
First of all....the kids all have homework. Yes....homework. And not just a few pages either....Issei has about 45 pages of kanji practice (the Chinese characters that are 1/3 of the Japanese writing system) and math. Then....he has a book called the Ajisai Noto....which would be translated to "Hydrangea Notebook". (FYI...the hydrangea is the official "flower of Nagasaki"). This book is grade appropriate....and every elementary school student in the city gets one. Inside is a variety of things to practice...math, science, kanji, Nagasaki history and information, other bits of this and that, and since Issei is a 5th grader, he also has some cooking and some sewing. You can imagine the excitement around here for that last one!!!

Each student is also encouraged to do some sort of project....to be turned in and displayed for all to see. Over the years, Issei has done two reports on his trips to Colorado (one year a poster with pictures and another year he made a really great photo album with explanations!!), a calendar made of rocks (yeah...we were pushing the deadline on that one!!) and my favorite was two years ago when he participated in a workshop at the art museum making things with old sports equipment. His piece was actually chosen to be shown at the city-wide exhibition!!!
This year, he is threatening to do something with bugs......we'll see what happens.

Another very important part of the summer holiday is the rajio taisou, or "radio exercises". In our area, there are three places the kids, parents and grandparents can go (Me? Oh no...I'm barely able to get my coffee made at that time of morning!!)....Issei goes to the school as it is the closest place. This year, since Koji is a kindergartner, he also goes....and he is so damn excited about it. Everyone has a special card that is signed when the exercises are finished and for those who go every single day, there is a prize. I'm not sure what that prize is since no one in our family has ever gone every day...I'm thinking it's probably juice...or a notebook...or pencils.

So....this morning, I woke them both up at 6:15, they got dressed and went to the school. The exercises start at 6:30....everyday, mind you....and last about 6 minutes....and then they come home....and drive me crazy for the next 2 hours until we leave for work/daycare/big-kid daycare. Issei does work on his homework...Koji also has his own "homework" book...a "getting ready for 1st grade" kind of book. Again...he's so excited about this, too!!!

Anyway, the exercises are a very long tradition here in Japan....you can sometimes catch (if you are lucky!) people in offices, bus drivers before they start their shift, pretty much anyone doing these exercises before their day starts!!
At the schools, before ANY sporting event, EVERYONE will do them. The music is the same. The exercises are the same. Someone said that the routine hasn't changed in over 50 years!!!

So...I went to YouTube and found you a video to give you an idea as to what most of the kids here in Japan are doing everyday, at the "butt crack of dawn".

**Oh....and listen...over the music and you will hear another very important part of summer in Japan....the semi (/se-mee/) or cicada. You know it's summer when this is pretty much all you can hear.

(The video is about 6 minutes long...I'm not expecting you, unless you want to, of course, to watch the whole thing...but, it is kind of interesting!!)

To me, it's just a long warm-up....for some jumping.
I'm usually laughing while I'm doing this!!!

13 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

There is no way this would fly in the U.S.!

smalltownmom said...

Oh my, the same thing every day?

But it's good to be moving.

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

That's a whole lotta arm flapping!

ms-teacher said...

I was thinking the same thing as Jenn, although maybe we wouldn't have such an obesity problem if we did do something like this.

Ginaagain said...

I like it! Another reason to move to Japan someday.

Ginaagain said...

Oh.. and the Cicadas fool me into thinking this was filmed in Oklahoma.

hulagirlatheart said...

A little daily exercise wouldn't kill us Americans. Oh, and I told my teenager about the summer homework/exercise thing while I was reading this. Her reply? "Ooh, sucks to be them."

3rdEyeMuse said...

that was awesome - thanks for sharing. :)

jan in nagasaki said...

like 8o damn degrees already in the morning... this routine is do-able by all those from 3 to 90.. kids do it in flip flops... and nobody breaks a sweat. I did it every day last summer just to see how it would feel.... it feels really damn stupid. I did it mindfully (the only one in the park, because everyone else there has it burned into their memory) and the whole time I wondered why they don't re-choreograph it and have different routines just to jazz it up a bit... but then I realized that would be messing with tradition and probably every one in the park (except for me) is very very happy with things the way they are...

Peggy Sez.. said...

So shuffling about the house in a ratty old robe clutching yer coffee cup doesn't count as exercise?

Damn!

Karen MEG said...

That's probably why there are so many fit people in Japan... it is a great idea to incorporate even 6 minutes of physical activity into your day, everyday.

Now that I've finished sounding all motherly...

getting up at 6:15 for a FREAKIN' 6 MINUTES???!!! INSANE!!!

stephanie (bad mom) said...

That is some serious dedication. I'll cry a little for you each morning. (Though it really is a good habit).

I've got something better than exercise, or cicadas, at my summer place today...:D

just jamie said...

THAT'S why the kids in the U.S. are such slackers -- we're competing with bright little rockstars like the ones you are raising. Sheez. Thanks. ;)