The School Bazaar at a Japanese preschool
Today, we had another first. 4-year-old’s first (pre)school1 bazaar. Like most school events, it involves parent participation. We take turns manning a booth; which is actually a mini shop within each classroom. I was on duty in the “toys” room, first thing this morning. I was a little nervous about it last night, not knowing what to expect. It was actually good craic and the time flew by.
As an early morning seller, I was given a ticket to buy one thing in advance of the bazaar opening to the public. I went straight to the room that was selling school uniforms. My 2-year-old will turn 3 in January and will therefore start preschool next April. My son will be going into his 2nd of 3 years, so I need doubles of everything. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of larger sizes on sale. My 2-year-old is very tall for her age and the only thing I could buy her that would fit was the preschool’s winter hat. (Pictured top right of the first photo). I got it for a third of the price it would cost new. The two ladies that were on duty on me in our booth, were also at the uniform booth. We got talking and before we knew it, it was time to man our stand. We were all first-timers so we were a little giddy heading to our room.
I was very surprised by the quantity, quality and diversity of the goods on sale in our room. With the exception of the 2nd hand uniforms, everything is unused. Each household is asked to contribute at least one new/ unused item from a range of categories such as food, clothing, utensils and homemade crafts. I soon learnt that the bazaar attracts people from the neighbourhood, because of the good offers. Within 10 seconds of opening our “booth” we had a sale, a couple of minutes later our second and after that it was a steady flow. There were plenty of “obachan”s, term of endearment for women of a certain seniority, armed with their own shopping bags and loose change galore. When I got to shop again later that morning I got some bargains myself. Much to my delight at 11am they half the price of everything, except school uniforms. Half an hour later I was delirious when they reduced pretty much everything to 10 yen (about 8 cent). For 2000 yen (about 18 Euro) I was able to buy all the goods pictured below, including the uniform hat, plus 3 lunches not pictured and the snacks mentioned in the next paragraph.
A stand was opened outside at 11am when the kids finished preschool. While the bazaar was running, they had been brought on a walk with their teachers. For 100 yen they got to choose 3 treats that were placed in the homemade shopping baskets pictured below. A big hit with the kids. 4-year-old wasn’t overly excited like he normally is when there is something on in school, so I figured there was something up. A couple of hours later, well I’ll save you the details… he has a tummy bug. Thankfully, it didn’t start till after the bazaar, because it turned out to be a fun event not to be missed.
1. Yochien (幼稚園）is usually translated as kindergarten, but this is an uncommon term in Ireland, where the principal sort of preschool is a Montessori. In other countries it’s called other names, so nowadays I try to refer to it as preschool. Preschool is not compulsory and the children can start as young as 2 years old for 4 years, but the average is 3 years, starting at 3 years old. The hours are usually 9am to 2pm if you drop the kids off and upto an hour longer for children who come by yochien bus. The school year is April to March.
- Family Lunch at Preschool (daysofourlivesjapan.wordpress.com)