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“Japanese Mass Entertainment”

School Festivals


Gakuensai – some may be familiar with the term while some others may be “?”

Gakuen is a synonym for schools in Japanese (most times referred to private schools) and sai means festivals. Therefore Gakuensai is a general term for school festivals held here and there across Japan, some schools starting in September and more in October or early November.

Almost all if not all universities, colleges, high schools and middle schools in Japan respectively have their own school festival every year, and the scale is rather large with a well-established executive committee operating and preparing for the festival for months. Although there is no clear definition or rules to it, the administrative office gives permission to the school fes executive committee to use the campus for events, displays and stalls to invite students, general public, and (most importantly) prospective students as well as their parents to come have a peek of the school.
Here, we will briefly go over what a university school festival is like.

The common events carried out in school festivals are as follow:

Invitation of guests outside the school:
- panel discussion and forums of leading academics
- talkshows of famous people in various genres
- live music and concerts of professional artists (including the most popular singers)
- live performances of popular comedians
- etc.

Student-oriented Projects:
- performances of performing art circles (clubs)
- recitals of music-related circles (pop, rock, classic / instrumental, songs, etc.)
- displays of student circle activities
- food / refreshment stands offered by students
- etc.

School (administrative office)-oriented Projects:
- entrance orientation
- mock lecture given by professors
- talks given by famous professors of the school

In most cases you will find rows and rows of food stands lining up on the main path from the main gate to the main hall, and people will be calling out to you to buy their stuff. The stands vary in their food selection and decorations and the entire atmosphere is not too different from the traditional seasonal fairs and festivals held across Japan.

As you squeeze yourself out through the stands and reach the school buildings, you can see all kinds of displays of a number of student organizations / activities, showing of films taken by students, as well as club activity performances (brass band, orchestra, cheer dance, pop music bands, etc.). Some of them spend a lot of time in their projects and have reputations no lower than professionals, with fan clubs in and out of school.

Here is some information on the school festivals of major universities around Tokyo.

November 23 (Thu) – 26 (Sun), 2006 <Keio University | 48th Mitasai>

Mitasai is one of the largest school festivals in Japan that boasts 200,000 visitors each year in four days. Being one of the best universities in the country with distinguished tradition, history and the alma mater of innumerable academics as well as entrepreneurs, the 400 events and projects the school offers include the usual live performances of students, food & refreshments stands to academic institutes and lectures with well-known figures. It is definitely one of the

URL: http://www.mitasai.com/

November 24 (Fri) – 26 (Sun), 2006 <The University of Tokyo | Komabasai>

The University of Tokyo, most commonly known to be the top and best of all universities in Japan, proudly presents one of the biggest school festivals in Japan with more than 400 projects / events and 100,000 visitors. Komaba Campus is where the freshmen and sophomores study, hence the Komabasai is projected mainly by the younger students. A very energetic and enthusiastic school fes.

URL: http://www.a103.net/komabasai/57/visitor/
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