日本の文化祭 (Japan’s Bunkasai)
Gabriel Angelia Nirvelli — INA AKP to Japan YP 22/23
Written on a rainy day, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand.
I am an Indonesian exchange student currently living in The Land of Sakura. You may call me by my nickname, Lia. On this newsletter I will be telling you guys about my experience in Japan, especially during 文化祭 (Bunkasai). What is Bunkasai, and what do you do during it? If you’re curious about it, take a comfortable seat, and I’ll tell you about my experience.
文化祭 (Bunkasai) is a term for Japan’s annual school festival. It usually takes place in autumn. During a day or two, the school will be open to the public. Whether they are a student’s parents or someone interested in the school, people may come and experience the atmosphere of the school. Meanwhile, students will have to present something for the school festival. Typically, they would prepare cafes, game booths, music, or even theater.
As an avid manga and anime enjoyer, I have seen many depictions of Bunkasai. It looks fun, I thought. Perhaps my past-self would be jumping in enjoyment upon hearing that I will be attending one myself. My experience in attending Bunkasai was a busy one, nonetheless it was fun and eventful.
In my school, Bunkasai is held for 2 days. There are 2 shifts each day, and students will use that to “work” and present something for the guests. Personally, I had to attend 2 different kinds of shift. On the first day, I had to attend my class’ casino on both shift. Meanwhile on the second day, I had to attend 家庭科部 (Kateika-bu), or home economics club’s early shift.
Let’s hop on to my first day, which is my class’ shift. My class prepared a casino, which I think is a unique idea. The picture on the left is the decorations on the front door. Inside our class, we had prepared multiple mini games, including roulette and blackjack. We also prepared a photo booth for the guests. The people in charge to be a game dealer had to explain the rules to the guests. Considering my Japanese skills at that time, I don’t think I’m good enough to do that. Instead, I help guests out at the photo booth. I’ll also include the photo booth later below.
Meanwhile, on my second day, I attended the home economics’ club shift. We planned to make stained glass cookies, which are sugar cookies with melted candy in the middle of it. We had to start making the cookies early in the morning because we planned to sell it in the afternoon. The club members are divided into 4 groups. Then, each of the groups had to make 50 of these cookies. There were so many cookies. My own group needed to make the cookies in 4 batches.
After making the cookies, we packed it into a clear packaging bag. Then, we tied it up together with a list of ingredients. To be honest, since this wasn’t exactly a big-scale event, I didn’t expect them to list out all the compositions and label the cookies like that. I was surprised to hear that in Japan, it is a must to list out the compositions when selling food. I think it’s admirable that they care about the customer’s wellbeing, especially if the customer has any type of allergy.
We finished making cookies in the afternoon. It was nearly the end of the second day’s early shift. Afterwards, our club was supposed to sell the cookies. But again, since my Japanese skills weren’t that good at the time, I wasn’t in charge of selling the cookies. Instead, the upperclassmen insisted that I go around and enjoy the Bunkasai.
I ended up going around the school with my friend. We went to different classes and experienced the things that they presented. There were lots of different attractions, including haunted houses, mazes, shooting games, musical performances, and many more. Since my school is very spacious, my feet were a bit sore afterwards. Nearing the end of the festival, me and my friend then decided to use the photo booth in my class and took a picture together.
In my country, there isn’t anything similar to Bunkasai. All things considered, this was a new and exciting experience for me. Future exchange students, I hope that you can also experience lots of different things that may be unimaginable by your past self.