On Saturday I saved Little Blue Riding Hood from the Big Bad Wolf, brought color to a black and white world, and heard “La Cucaracha” sung in Japanese. An eventful day, no doubt. It was the Cultural Festival at Keio SFC High School, where our hosts go to school, and much was going on. The event was full of performances from different clubs, plays from the older students (12th graders) and my favorite: interactive adventures from the younger students (10th graders).
In Japan, school is a bit different. Each grade is separated into classes (6A, 6B, 6C, etc.), each with their respective classroom. Instead of students moving around to different rooms, as is done in American high schools, the teachers are the ones that come to these classrooms. This being said, students form very strong bonds with their fellow classmates as they spend almost all of their classes with these 30 or so other kids.
During the festival the fourth grade classes (the Keio equivalent of 10th grade) put on different “interactive adventures”. In the first one that I visited, I was on a quest to save Little Blue Riding Hood, who was currently in a quarrel with Little Red Riding Hood, and had also been captured by the Big Bad Wolf. I had to shoot the birds that were “being too annoying” with a rubber band gun, complete a riddle, and kill the wolf that had abducted our blue-caped friend.
The fourth grade classroom had been divided into smaller rooms, decorated with scenery and all, and actors that gave the participant (me) a task to complete in order to move on to the next room. By killing the birds I was given stones with which to kill the wolf, by solving the riddle I was given the wolf’s weakness, his stomach, and with this I could proceed to the final room and finish the deed. Sure enough I was greeted by a 15-year old dressed up as a wolf, and lo and behold, Little Blue Riding Hood tied to a chair! The stones (really balled up pieces of paper painted gray) became quite handy as I had to throw them into a shoebox taped to the wolf’s stomach, thus finishing the mighty beast once and for all. Little Blue Riding Hood was saved and I was assured that he would go on to mend his friendship with Little Red Riding Hood.
This was one of the interactive adventures that a class had put on. The students had come up with the idea and planned and set-up the entire experience, complete with costumes, scripted lines, and riddles to solve. Another adventure involved a “manga world” where everything was in black and white. My goal was to bring color to this colorless, and mute (because there’s no sounds in comic books) world. I started off in the black and white room, but by solving riddles moved from room to room, each with a different color, in order to make the world colorful again.
Whether while saving Little Blue Riding Hood or while bringing color to a black and white world, I really enjoyed my experience during the Cultural Festival. The interactive adventures were incredibly creative and fun, making me wonder why we don’t do this in the U.S. It must have been a lot of work for each class to organize and prepare for their interactive game, but they had their day to shine as I traveled from room to room, solving riddles and restoring order, fully impressed by their work.
Although the interactive adventures were my highlight of the festival, I also saw many different clubs offered at the school, and through each I got a better picture of Keio SFC High School. I heard the choir club sing, with songs ranging from “Tomorrow” from Annie (in English) to “La Cucaracha” (in Japanese). I tasted the amazing baked goods from the cooking club, or saw students in the Karuta club play the traditional card game. As I experienced all of these I was met with smiling faces and welcoming people. Although I knew that this was a special event and that school would not be like this, I was excited to go and attend class with my host brother and experience the clubs for myself and make friends with these fun and creative people.
School Without Walls