Autumn In Japan: The Season Of Sports

Oct 23, 2015

Autumn in Japan is a beautiful time with leaves on the trees changing color and a lot of crops ripe and ready for use in the famous seasonal Japanese cuisine. People enjoy going out during this time of the year to enjoy the cool, crisp weather and attractive vistas. The autumn weather is also perfect for outdoor sports, which is why sports events are held ritually during the season.

Everybody out!

Every year schools all over Japan have “Undokai” (sports festivals) and students from different schools, grades and classes compete against each other in various athletic activities. Students in schools traditionally divide into two main teams distinguished by team colors - red and white (based on Japanese nation branding). There are many activities in which students participate and compete – such as track and tug of war (which western cultures are also well familiar with). However, there are many other popular activities in Japan, which are not seen widely in western sports events.

Battle of Samurais and Collect the Elderly

There are numerous typically Japanese competitions and activities during autumn.

Kibasen” – “Ki” is “samurai”, “ba” is “horse”, “sen” is “battle” – is a traditional activity where the teams consist of 3 people (two for the horse and a rider, the samurai), where the "samurai" tries to catch the hats from other student samurais. The team with the most hats wins.

Karimono Kyoso” – “borrowing race” is another popular activity where students receive a note with something they have to find and “borrow” around them. It can be anything from a stick of deodorant to somebody who is over 70 years old.

Amekui Kyoso” – “candy eating race” is the messiest activity, but probably brings the biggest outbursts of laughter. Students race around a track with tables holding pans filled with flour and candy. The candy is white so you can't see it mixed in with the flour. The rule is you can’t use your hands, but you need to retrieve the candy from the pan with your mouth. So we have many floury faces racing down the track to the finish line :)

As you can see “Undokai” is not just a standard sports event with students simply competing against one another, but is an event to have fun, enjoy and bring unity within the student body. In the words of Michael Jordan “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”