There seems to be certain Japanese school events that happen at every school. These events are serious and traditional. Students and teachers spend a lot of time practicing and getting ready for them. Not everyone has fond memories of these events. I don't have any personal experience with these events, but I hear about them from my students who are parents. Not all of the parents are crazy about participating in them with their children either.
Five hundred Japanese adults were surveyed, and asked "What school event in elementary school did you hate the most?" Here are the top ten responses.
10 - School Trip (37 votes)
9 - Culture Festival (38)
8 - Mountain Climbing (39)
7 - Entrance Ceremony (42)
6 - Graduation Ceremony (44)
5 - Music Festival (62)
4 - Emergency Drills (87)
3 - Parent Observation Classes (117)
These can happen several times a year and in my area seem to happen on Saturdays. According to my students, the children practice lessons ahead of time so there are no mistakes, and the parents watch from the back of the room.
2 - Sports Day (180)
Sports Days seem to happen in the spring and in the fall in my area and usually last all day. The fathers go to the school early in the morning with a tarp to stake out their family area for eating lunch and resting. This year, due to the pandemic, sports days were still held, but shorter and no lunch. Also, family members were limited to only one or two.
1 - Marathon (210) Although named "Marathon", the run isn't a marathon distance. I think it's more like four kilometers. There are many training sessions before the event, with everyone wearing the same T-shirts. I've heard from my students that the event is less of a competition between students and a competition to better one's previous year's ranking. Sometimes there are tears.
Did your elementary school hold any annual events? Did you like them? The only one I remember was the annual Christmas program. It was held in the gymnasium with the students (the school was 3rd - 8th grades) on the bleachers on one side and the parents and family on the other. Each grade performed a song or something. The fifth graders always sat in the shape of a triangle, wearing green aprons, and held flashlights with colored cellophane. They sang O Christmas Tree with the lights dimmed and the flashlight on so it was supposed to look like a big Christmas tree. The teachers always carried saltine crackers and throw up bags in case anyone felt sick. The students all received some treat at the end. Maybe there were other events, but I don't remember any.