This film is part of Free
Japanese School Children
In a school gymnastic festival, boys and girls demonstrate their physical rigour through exercise and dance.
Under the close watch of bearded men in uniform, boys face the camera as they rhythmically practise a military-style exercise. Calisthenics was introduced to Japan from Germany at the dawn of the Meiji period as an effective training method for the military. The circular dance in the second shot, performed mostly by girls, is also characterised by uniformity, revealing the stringent discipline that modern Japanese educators sought to instill in school-aged children. (Kosuke Fujiki)
BFI silent film curator Bryony Dixon adds: This was part of the 14-part Japan and China series issued by Hepworth Manufacturing Company in 1904. The cameraman is yet to be identified, but would almost certainly have been in Japan to try to film the Russo-Japanese War.