Lockdown is like: Eat. Sleep. Chores. Repeat. Complete with a daily walk around the block, which was fun at first when you could shamelessly nose into the neighbours' driveways, but that too has lost its novelty. Even those in level 2 may be feeling the disappointment of inclement weather when weekend plans are dashed by erratic spring showers.
What, you may be asking, can we do now?
In the spirit of 2021 thus far (no, not DIY haircuts and Bloomfield memes), it might pay to get a little sporty; a little Olympics-inspired… again. The main games may be over but October 11 marks Japan's annual Sports Day: moved forward this year to coincide with the Olympics Opening Ceremony, but otherwise held on the second Monday in October.
With roots dating back to the 19th century, a one-day holiday was officially recognised in 1966 as a means to boost national health and wellbeing, with the entire population effectively taking part in a collective sports day, known in Japan as undokai. Schools and some companies suspend all work in favour of a miniature Olympics event, with parades, marching bands and welcome speeches, followed by an assortment of field games and a closing ceremony. Miniature, it seems, in scale but not enthusiasm.
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Events include everything from three-legged races and a tug-of-war to more traditional track events. And if there's someone creative sitting on the committee, any manner of weird and wonderful activities proposed on the day. Check out Youtube for a full undokai vlog at a Japanese school (youtube.com/watch?v=VvtFqsdiI_w), complete with contests like 'Pull off the Bandana'.
With Japan regularly topping the "healthiest nations in the world" list, and our current situation feeling a little sluggish, it's not a bad shout to seek inspiration from the Land of the Rising Sun. An at-home Olympic Games within your bubble is achievable when most events, such as the classic egg-and-spoon race can be rustled together out of household items.
The UK's Japanese Society is packed with online resources for recreating your own authentic undokai event. Take a look at japansociety.org.uk (and search undokai) for a game pack listing eight home edition ideas. Most activities require a minimum of two people, perfect for even the smallest lockdown bubbles. And parents take note – one game titled the Speed Clean is nothing but a ruse to get the kids to tidy up.
And on that note, happy undokai day.
Check alert level restrictions and Ministry of Health advice before travel. covid19.govt.nz