I remember going ice-skating on a class trip. I remember the run for skate boots, getting the wrong size shoes but having no choice as they ran out of my size, I remember the wet floor your socks got soaked on when you changed shoes, I remember being flung onto the ice and learning by falling and realising how painful it was so trying really hard not to do it again. I remember forgetting which group I was in and which teacher was in charge of me (usually because they were off having cups of tea away from the cold ice). I remember it being an hour of free ice skating and I remember it very fondly.
An ice skating school trip in Japan is done so very differently.
It’s called a festival to start and is really quite the spectical. The students all have a hand book with their group names, the teachers and sub teachers in charge of them, their lunch numbers, their shoe size and their transport home. As well as a timetable for the day. It starts with an opening ceremony, which includes speeches from all the teachers about what a great day they will have, this is followed by a demonstration on how to put on your skating boots, how to tell if they are correctly fitted and correctly tied up. Then there was an actually skating demonstration by two professional skaters which had mic’s on and described the process as they were gliding around.
We chose between ice-hockey or ice-skating. I chose the hockey because I thought I would hopefully at least have some hockey skills I could transfer to the ice from the grass. You would think they just throw you a stick and a few pucks to mess around with. Oh no, the whole sheebang, head to toe kitted out in ice-hockey gear, it took 45minutes to get it all on correctly. After a quick demo on how to skate we were given helmets and told to practice tackling, i.e bashing your partner up against the side walls. Poor kids who got paired with the giant foreigner teacher who is very competitive, we were given padding for a reason though! We played a match at the end which was amazing fun, you forget you can’t skate because of all the padding and end up flinging yourself around the ring on your knees, scrambling after the puck. I scored some goals and became the national hero of the day (I am still getting high fives in the hallways for these goals I scored almost 2weeks ago!)
Then we had lunch, very organized and very civilized.
Next was ice-games again very organized… but not so civilized. We put on our indoor shoes and stepped onto the ice to play つな ひき aka TUG-OF-WAR. Has anyone seen Takashi’s castle? This was a real live version of it. They had helmets, knee and elbow padding, thank god as they were standing for very little amounts of time. I cannot imagine what nut case made this game up but it was hilarious to watch hundreds of baby giraffes constantly losing their legs from beneath them!
They day finished with a big closing ceremony which involved the usual thank you speeches and loads of bowing!
This day spent messing with the teachers and students is added to one of my fondest memories of Japan.