In the United States, where you can get sent home from school for aiming a chicken drumstick and saying “bang bang,” I doubt schools could get away with staging gunfights and whiskey drinking. Here in pacifist Japan, however, folks are much more relaxed about that sort of thing.
To wit, this morning I attended the Performing Arts Festival at my son’s school. The first graders performed a play – “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” Lilia’s class did this a couple of years ago at the deaf school, but the violent bits were pretty much edited out. Instead of death by hot oil, the thieves were allowed to apologize and make friends with Ali Baba, and Ali Baba’s brother doesn’t get his head chopped off. At my son’s school however, the brother is killed, hot oil is poured, and the first graders ran around brandishing sabers scimitars.
The second grade performance was pretty tame – a mini concert of compositions from around the world. My son banged the bass drum during “La Cucaracha.” I was very proud of him.
The sixth graders did a kyogen piece, which is traditional Japanese theater. Their intonation and acting were excellent. It was very impressive, The play in question was about two men working for a sake manufacturer who manage to get wasted on sake even though they are tied up. When the master returns and finds them drunk, he beats them. Drunkenness and violence! Oh, my!