Saturday, March 7, 2009

Japanese Graduation

Last Sunday, March 1st was the national day for high school graduation in Japan.

The ceremony itself wasn't so different from the US graduations, but the one thing I loved about Japanese graduation was that it was SUPER efficient. There were 360 students graduating from my high school and the ceremony was only an hour and a half!!!!! (oh yeah... and the Principal was decked out in a penguin split tail pin striped suit!)

Instead of having each student walk on stage to receive their diploma, they had a fast name call and the students stood at their seat and yelled out: "HAI!" (yes!) After the names were called from each homeroom class (total of 9) one representative went on stage to receive a diploma from the Principal.

Everyone wore little pink flower pins which had the kanji for Graduation and Congratulations. Also, each homeroom class had different Hawaiian looking flowers which they put in their hair or pinned on their uniform. Some of the class clowns brought reindeer antlers and other little props as they entered the gym.

At the end of the graduation ceremony the senior students turned around and sang to the Junior students. The song is known as Hotaru no Hikari. 蛍の光 and the lyrics of the first verse are: "We studied hard using the glow of fireflies in summer and by the light reflected through the window by the snow in winter. Now the days have passed and it is a time to say goodbye." At which point the students started crying. Awww... The 'window' in the song is used as a symbol of their school days because it reminds people about the activities that went on inside and outside of the windows during their school years. Along the same lines, same-year graduates of a school are called: Dousousei 同窓生 - Dou同= same Sou窓 = window 生Sei= student - which means students who studied together beside the same windows.

But it was sad saying goodbye to the students. A few introduced me to their parents and grandparents... One of my student's grandmother gave me deepest and longest bow I have ever seen. She was so sweet!!! I was invited to many houses for dinner. :-)

I became very close to some of the senior students. They came everyday to my desk at lunch time and after school to have me mark their English compositions and more importantly to chat!!! They were my closest friends at the school and it will be so different next year without 'em. :-(

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