Monday, March 19, 2012

Graduation ceremonies

Spring is in the air! Maybe... It is still cold and there are snow patches here and there... But the pussy willows are doing their best to urge other flowers into the season. Today is Vernal Equinox Day in Japan and a holiday for school children and many offices (not Tetsu's... he's working today.)

Yesterday I attended the elementary school's graduation ceremonies. All the parents dressed in black suits or in kimono, all the 6th graders dressed in their jr. high school uniforms. The whole student body gathered in the gymnasium that was decorated with pots and planters and arrangements of flowers. A lot of "important" guests attending... Yours truly included... As a uniformed crosswalk guard, I'm considered an important guest (along with representatives from City Hall, numerous community center managers, PTA presidents from district schools, neighborhood chairmen leaders, police officers etc. etc.) Such a difference from my American nephew's 6th grade graduation ceremonies in California two years ago.... That "ceremony" was held in the classroom and the teacher, wearing shorts and Birkenstocks, handed out homemade diplomas. Only two or three room mothers attended and then everybody walked to a nearby park for hot dogs...

I also attended the kindergarten's graduation ceremonies last week... The children all garbed in gowns and collars and mortarboard caps... Very cute! So many tears from the mothers at this ceremony. Kindergarten graduation is a big event in Japan! So much formal bowing and exchanging of documents and pledges of future hard work and support from everybody. Many speeches and professional photographers.

All these ceremonies seem a little grandiose to American eyes, but I suppose it teaches the children the difference between play and solemn occasions, it focuses on the significance of accomplishments, it gives the children the opportunity to shine in everyone's eyes and to know how proud their parents are.

With Tetsu working today I'm going to use the day to get some sewing done!

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