Undōkai (Field Days)
Undōkai takes place during the first weekend so that students in different levels can get to know each other. This electrifying annual event is based on the Japanese tradition of UNDOKAI. Throughout Japan, schools, cities, and other organizations promote unity, team work and friendship through the UNDOKAI. In this same spirit, the Japanese school divides into teams and holds a series of competitions such as three-legged relays, human wheelbarrow races, egg relays, a scavenger hunt competition, and the classic tug-of-war. In addition, the not-so-familiar YOPPARAI relay, where participants run to one end of the field, spin themselves in circles as they look down at a bat, and then runback, provides good laughs and a unique touch. Other fun events are the watermelon bust, the balloon toss, and the pass-the-prize four-person relay.
Rakugo is a traditional Japanese art of story telling, where performers sit in front of the audience and tell humorous, scary, or moving dramatic stories, using vivid facial expressions and body language to convey different characters. At the yearly Rakugo performance, professional Rakugo players Yanagiya Sankyo and Ryuutei Saryuu perform classic stories while traditional paper-cutter Hayashiya Niraku cuts any student's request into a paper masterpiece. Students from the Rakugo club perform as well, and outside guests are welcome (basic English subtitles are provided).
Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival Celebration)
The Japanese annual Obon and Tanabata festivals are celebrated in traditional Japanese style here at Middlebury. Traditional barbecued foods, kimono (yukata) wearing, and the customary Obon dance are all part of the festivities.
Talent Show (Gakugekai)
Skits, solos, group musical performances, and traditional Japanese dances and instrumental solos have all been part of past shows. The main requirement for performances is that they be either in Japanese or without words. Student and teacher performances have produced memorable evenings of entertainment each year.
The weekly Japanese films, shown in theaters on campus, are among some of the best and newest movies available in the U.S. Recently shown movies include "Always: Sanchome no Yuhi", "Chichi to Kuraseba", "Megumi", "Hula Girls", "Uchoten Hotel", and others.
Budō Club (Martial arts club)
Budō club meets weekly. Typically, participants take turns in teaching and practicing particular types of martial arts, as we usually find enough students who have expertise in budō. Typical selections are karate, juujutsu, taikando, aikido, etc.
As Karaoke has become an important part of Japanese culture, the Japanese school is equipped with an Internet-based karaoke system. Students can choose from thousands of available songs. In addition, the school usually hosts a karaoke party.
Shodō Club (Calligraphy)
The shodo club meets weekly to learn basics of Japanese calligraphy. This is always a very popular club.
As professional rakugo Performers (Yanagiya Sankyo and Ryutei Saryu) are perennial visitors to the school, students in rakugo club have opportunities to practice and perform rakugo with them. This club meets weekly.
Tea Ceremony and Incense Appreciation Club
CHADO, the art of the traditional tea ceremony, offers much to learn about Japanese culture and arts, as well as language.
The soccer team traditionally competes quite rigorously every summer against teams from other language schools. The mutual language pledge makes it possible for competing schools to avoid English and to enjoy learning how to compete, cheer, and participate in the Japanese language.
Students practice weekly and hold matches with other schools. Action, intensity, and excitement abound as each team gives its best. Important teamwork and language skills are learned by both participants and fans.