All in a Day’s Work

A brief break from the Crits for Water madness. If you’re curious about that, you can check out the FAQ page, my reasons for holding the fundraiser, the schedule of events, or the more in-depth line-up of guest critters.

In any case. Middle school graduations were held this last week. (Yes, there are middle school graduations in Japan. Part of that is because required schooling only goes up to grade 9, but that doesn’t really explain why there are also kindergarten and elementary graduations. But I digress.)

Here, in picture form, is the Anatomy of a Japanese Graduation Ceremony.

First: receiving the certificates of completion. Note the giant Japanese flag and the beautiful arrangement of flowers on stage. Thems things are EXPENSIVE. And also rented. You can also rent intricate bonsai for ceremonies, too. One of my other schools does that.  All the teachers wear black suits. Except for me. As I don’t have a black suit. My blue skirt caused a scandal! (Not really.)

Don't forget to bow!

Between this picture and the next one, there are a lot of long, long speeches. Crying. Singing songs to one another. (No, seriously. The graduating students sing a song to those not graduating, and vice versa. These songs are often about holding good memories. There is more crying.)

After the ceremony, students line up and hold a procession for the graduating students. And then there are MORE SPEECHES. And finally, the Banzai.

Those familiar with kamikaze pilots may have heard this phrase before. But “banzai” doesn’t have a negative meaning at all. It means “10,000 years,” so you’re essentially saying, “May we remember/experience/love these things for 10,000 years.” Anyway.

My students' banzai were not very enthusiastic, though.

Third:  everything devolves into madness.

The students are having fun. But is the homeroom teacher?

Fourth, the graduating students go home. It’s a half day. As the remaining students clean the school or do other slave-ish tasks, all the teachers gather in the staff room for a well deserved, “You are honorably tired” meal.  Note that such meals may not happen at larger schools.

I ate so much sushi/sashimi that week. All fresh and AMAZING.

Finally, that night, students, their parents, and the teachers all get together for madness and revelry. There is much beer all around, except for the students who get soda and orange juice. Or me, because I drove myself there. (Also: work the next day.) A lot of parents come by and say, “Do you know which student is mine?” To which I reply, “HAHAHAHAH, no.”

What? I can’t tell familial resemblance unless they’re standing right next to one another.

The highlight was when the Principal sang the Japanese version of "My Way." He was really good.

Further proof that life is a-chugging along. But for those places where it isn’t in Japan, if you haven’t donated yet, please do so. Or do so again.

SO. Jealous of my incredible sushi life? I know you are. Mmm. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post in which I detail more Crits for Water goodness.