On October 1st, the Japanese postal system officially became privatized. I haven't gone to the post office since the change, so I don't know how much it will affect me. I haven't checked into whether postal rates will be changing or anything. I imagine I'll find out eventually.
On the same day, my local bookstore started a 1% cash back program for all of their books and comics. It's not much, but hey, it's certainly better than nothing--especially considering how much money I spend there.
The supermarket next to the bookstore gained a new bakery, a branch of a large bakery on the other side of town that I rarely visit because it's out of my way for pretty much everything. The new branch didn't have a huge selection when I peeked in the window, but that may be because it just opened.
The school festival went well this year, though it was slightly different from previous years in that only the upperclassmen were allowed to do stage presentations. I've given detailed reports on the school festival in previous years, so here I'll just do a general overview.
The first two days of the festival were the "cultural" part. The first-year students mostly had prepared short films that they aired in their classrooms, though one class made an elaborate 3D representation of the four seasons that visitors could walk through. As an example, here is the model of spring, showing a hanami (cherry blossom viewing party).
The second- and third-year students gave various stage presentations. Some put on skits, either original or adapted from other sources, such as this performance of Grease [video file]. Others did more traditional performances, such as this class, which played taiko drums [video file] and danced the souran-bushi [video file].
Student clubs put up displays or demonstrations of their club activities, such as this display by the calligraphy (shodou) club or this demonstration by the tea ceremony (sadou) club.
Sports teams and the PTA had booths where they sold various snacks, such as yakisoba (fried noodles) or onigiri (rice balls). The students then ate their purchases while sitting on the grass in front of a platform where various students gave volunteer performances of singing and music.
The third day was the sports day portion of the event. Students were divided up into five teams, each assigned a different color. (My English major students were part of the Red Team.) They held a number of different sports events. One example was a kind of relay race in which the students had to run while doing various tasks, such as bouncing a ping-pong ball or linking elbows with a friend. Another event was the ball toss in which each team tried to toss as many of its color beanbags into a basket as possible during a certain time interval.
The central feature of the sports competition was the "cheer." Each team was given about ten minutes to give a performance showing their spirit. The teams had been practicing their performances for days. Each "cheer" began with the students bowing to the spectators (teachers, parents, and other students). They then usually did several dances, though some teams found ways to make their performances unique. The green team, for example, had the students all carry colored squares that they flipped in a synchronized fashion to spell out messages. The cheers were too long for me to record all the performances, but here is an excerpt of the red team cheer [video file].
In unrelated news, the sun has been setting earlier and earlier. At the moment, it's setting at around the same time I go home every day, so I get to see sights like this.
In even more unrelated news, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, for the past two weeks I've been spending most of my evenings participating in the Brewfest (based on Oktoberfest) event in World of Warcraft. You had to do certain tasks (like ram racing) every day to win tickets, and the tickets could then be used to purchase prizes. I managed to get the grand prize (a ram mount) for four of my characters (counting megory's paladin Guapoton), plus other random prizes for several other characters.
This week the Hallow's End event begins...