School Events

Information about school events and what you may be expected to do.

Graduation ceremony 卒業式 (Sotsugyou shiki)

For men, you will be "required" to wear an appropriate suit (usually black) with a white tie. For women, a black suit may be necessary, too. So, ask in advance to check what to wear.
As an ALT your job is just to do like the other teachers who aren't the graduating homeroom teachers. You may be asked to help set-up/clean up, or you could volunteer. You may also have a 'practice' graduation to attend before the main event. They will run through when to bow, and how the students should enter/exit and so on.
There is usually a 'party' before the graduation ceremony for the graduating students; called 'sotsugyousei o okuru kai' (卒業生を送る会). This may involve speeches, plays, music performances and dance performances by the students.
Photos: It is best to ask for permission to take photos first. Additionally, it is often very bad to put photos of your students on the internet (e.g. facebook) due to privacy issues and possible repercussions (i.e. full apologies in front of schools/BOE/PTA/etc.). Taking photos for your own memories should be fine.
Your students may ask you to pose in photos with them too, as well as sign year books and other things.

Opening ceremony

The opposite of graduation, where new students come in.
For men, once again, you will be "required" to wear an appropriate suit (usually black) with a white tie. Women can be required to wear a black suit, too. So, ask in advance about the dress code.
For most of the proceedings you will just watch, however you may be required to quickly introduce yourself in front of the new students and their parents. Again, you may be asked to help set-up/clean up, or you could volunteer. You may also have a 'practice' ceremony to attend before the main event.

Sports Day 運動会 (Undoukai)

Commonly held in October, but some schools hold their sports day in late May or early June. Sometimes, it is held on a weekend so the parents can attend.
Usually, the ALTs role is just to watch or help out. You may be asked to participate, too, if your school have events or activities you could join in with.
The dress code is normally sports wear, even if you are just watching. For women, low cut or sleeveless sports tops/vests are usually not okay to wear.
Remember to wear sunscreen on your sports day, you'll be outside most of the day and it's easy to get sunburnt.

Culture Event/Culture Festival 文化祭 (Bunkasai)

The culture festival celebrates school culture, as well as Japanese culture. Generally held in the fall, around September at senior high schools. Usually, junior high schools do not have a culture festival.
These range from one day to two, and often include competitions between classes, skits/dramas, plays, singing, club displays and showcases, class-run booths, and food cooked by students. If you have an English club/English Speaking Society, you may be asked to help prepare something. The culture festival basically showcases your students' talents, interests, and is a really big event at the school, so if you have the opportunity to go, take it.
Your school, if the culture festival is on a saturday, may ask you to come in to work that day; you will (along with all the other teachers) get a day-in-lieu (daikyuu/furikyuu) instead.