Human pyramids are popular among many different countries. The famous festival, known as the Dahi Handi festival, is celebrated to mark the Hindu god, Krishna's birthday in India. On the other hand, in Japan, schools hold a sports day every year. All students have to join the festival and compete to show their sporting ability to their parents, teachers, and visitors. In the group competition, students perform gymnastic formation to show their artistic quality. A Human pyramid is one of the major events. It piles the human body to make the pyramid instead of stone.
Huge pyramids and injuries
I feel bad every time when I read news about an injury of a student caused by collapse of the pyramid. It brings me back my old memories. I was at the very bottom of the human pyramid. I felt small stones on my knee and got huge pressure from the upper layer on my back. It was painful. I simply put up with the situation without doubting its safety at that time. It was a four-layer pyramid. Compared to the current one it was rather small. I've heard that 6 or 7-layer pyramids were made at elementary schools, and 8, 9 or 10-layer pyramids were made at junior high schools. A student at the top position is 7m (23ft) high from the ground. A student at the bottom position gets about 200kg (440lb) pressure. Of course, most of the schools don't do such a dangerous activity anymore, but it still remains. Has the human pyramid been loved and prepared well by Japanese school children? The answer is NO, unfortunately. The lack of preparation directly means the danger of injury, of course. Children only starts training about 2 weeks before the event.
It's just a traditional event. We don't even know why we can't stop it
Are we going to do it just because we did it last year? Don't you have such an experience? Now, we are doing it again just because it's the tradition. What is the purpose? Development of a cooperative attitude? Like making them the future-slave-worker who can obey working extra long hours without getting pay? Patience training? Like making them to be able to keep smiling face while their future clients are making huge complaints? Isn't it supposed to be the sports day event? Are we sure of the safety? Why do they have to show off huge pyramids as the highlight of the day? I think it's ridiculous. We, Japanese are not good at breaking rules, or traditions. There are many people expressing their concerns about the safety, and the change may not take place before more serious accidents occur. What do you think?
The bottom line is: "Safe and fun event at school!"
What's happening right now
Finally, Kobe's education board (Kobe is one of the major cities in Japan) has announced that they will prohibit the gymnastic formation including the human pyramid after 2020. Currently, whether you perform human pyramids or not is exclusively up to each school. About 40% of school didn't perform the gymnastic formation in 2019 but the rest of schools did, and 51 accidents happened including 6 cases of fracture. Some parents blame on teachers, who let them do that. Other parents said that's teachers' responsibility to stop students do anything dangerous. Personally, I simply hope all kids and their families enjoy one nice weekend day without injuries.