I referred to this in my blog yesterday about Undokai. During Undokai, my students performed some traditional Japanese cheering. After doing some research, I learned this is called "oendan". When I wrote my blog yesterday, I had a really difficult time trying to describe just what oendan is. Fortunitely, this is the internet. I found a short wiki article about it. The only thing I would add to this article is that the cheering is done as young as junior high school age. I also found this awesome video of some junior high school students doing oendan:
This is basically what I watched yesterday, only my kids didn't have to perform in the rain! (Kudos to the kids in this video!) I also like to think that when my students did it, it was even better than this ;).
The cheering is done during sports day, of course. It's also done pretty much anytime the students have a school ceremony. For example, if the basketball team has a big game the next day, the other students will perform oendan for the team. They also do it during graduation. The graduating class will perform oendan for the rest of the students, then the younger students will perform it back for the graduating class.
If you couldn't tell from the video, oendan is LOUD! I'm pretty sure the goal is to be as loud as possible. The students beat on taiko drums, then they shout from the top of their lungs.
I compare oendan to cheerleading back in the States. However, cheerleading is mostly a gendered sport. More men are joining it these days, but it's still really only done by women. Oendan is done by everyone. Yesterday, one of the teams oendan teams was lead by a boy, then the other team was lead by a girl. Every single student participated.
If you're interested, there are other youtube videos of oendan out there. If you type in "oendan" or "Japanese cheering" you should find a pretty good list of videos.