Here’s your chance to experience your Japanese high school days that never were.

If you’ve watched much anime or Japanese youth dramas, you’ve probably seen an episode that centers on a school sports day. Held each fall, sports days aren’t full-fledged track meets or serious athletic competitions, but rather a fun series of fun games that are all about the joy of physical activity.

Since they’re organized by schools as student events, sports day (or undokai in Japanese) are wrapped up in a lot of happy memories for adults, but if you grew up outside Japan you might think you’ve missed your chance to experience them for yourself. That’s not entirely true, though, thanks to Tamagawa Onsen.

Located in the Saitama Prefecture town of Tokigiwa, Tamagawa Onsen is a hot spring facility that’s all about nostalgia, even billing itself as a “Showa retro hot spring bathhouse” (the Showa era being the period of Japanese history that lasted from 1926 to 1989, but most strongly associated with the span from the late ‘50s to early ‘80s).

▼ Tamagawa Onsen

With sports day season here, Tamagawa Onsen is holding one of its own, with entry free to any guest of any age. While you don’t have to participate while wearing the sort of track suit or white T-shirt commonly used as gym class uniforms in Japanese schools, anyone who does will received a special present from Tamagawa Onsen.

It appears that participants will be divided into two teams, red and white (as is often traditionally done at school sports days). There will be a total of five events, all sports day classics: tug of war, otama relay (similar to an egg-and-spoon-race), tama-ire (similar to basketball shooting, but with multiple balls and a closed basket), bread-eating, and candy-eating.

▼ “Bread-eating” might not sound like the sternest test of athletic prowess, but eating the suspended-in-air buns does require a certain amount of flexibility and/or jumping, depending on how tall the competitor is.

▼ Sports day candy-eating involves searching for candies hidden inside mounds of flour, with use of the hands prohibited.

There’s no additional fee or reservation required to participate in Tamagawa Onsen’s sports day, and with tickets to the facility all under 1,000 yen (US$6.70), this is probably the most economical way possible to time slip back to your student days, or to time and dimension-slip to your alternate life student days in Japan.

▼ The hot spring baths themselves don’t appear to be any slouches, either.

But while Tamagawa Onsen is offering a chance to go back to the past, time itself does march on, and the sports day will be held from 2 o’clock in the afternoon on October 15.

Hot spring information
Tamagawa Onsen / 玉川温泉
Address: Saitama-ken, Hiki-gun, Tokigawa-machi Oaza Tamagawa 3700
Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (weekdays), 5 a.m.-10 p.m. (weekends)

Source, images: PR Times
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