Today is the first day of another long weekend in Japan as Monday 8 October is 体育の日(たいいくのひ / Taiiku_no_hi / Health and Sports Day) holiday. 体育 / Taiiku literally means “to develop one’s body” and if used at school, it is the name of the subject, Physical Education. Until 1999, Taiiku_no_hi was fixed on 10 October, which was the opening day of Tokyo Olympics in 1964 but from the year 2000, it has been observed on the second Monday of October so that there are more long weekends in a year. With the second Tokyo Olympics coming up in 2020, Taiiku_no_hi is going to be renamed as “スポーツの日” (すぽーつのひ / Supo-tsu_no_hi / Sports Day) in 2020.
During and/or around this weekend, many communities and schools have 運動会 (うんどうかい / undoukai / athletic carnivals). In most Australian schools, athletic carnivals are one of the official events where times are taken for official records and representative athletes get chosen based on the record to go to the next level of competition. In Japan, school athletic carnivals are more for fun for the entire school community and have more team events, such as 玉入れ (たまいれ / tamaire / competition of how many balls each team can put in a basket held high above), 騎馬戦 (きばせん / kibasen / cavalry battle games – children piggy backed on other children try to take each other’s hat off), 二人三脚 (ににんさんきゃく / ni_nin_san_kyaku / three-legged races), etc.