A bunka-sai (meaning “cultural festival”) is an event generally held by students at high schools or junior high schools in Japan, usually in September, October, or November.
At a bunka-sai, each class or extracurricular group performs a play or makes music. Works of art and results of self-conducted research may also be on display. At some high schools, students turn a classroom into a temporary restaurant or set up food stalls.
While in most cases, the school premises are usually only open to students and faculty, at a bunka-sai the general public is welcomed. Students hoping to attend a particular school in the next academic year, as well as people living near the school, can enter and have a look around. Also, students from other schools can attend the event, often leading to new friendships. All in all, a bunka-sai is often the most important and exciting annual event at a school.
Many universities hold similar annual festivals, which are known as gakuen-sai or daigaku-sai (meaning “campus festivals”). They are often more elaborate than their high-school equivalents. Highlights may include speeches by famous lecturers or live concerts by professional musicians.
Updated: August 29, 2019