In Japanese public schools, teachers are required to change schools every three to six years (on average it’s five). This is to keep good teachers from coalescing in one area, thereby making poorer communities, like my island, at an even greater studying/learning disadvantage. As March is the end of the school year, this is also the time when teachers leave.

Like most things in Japan, this turns into a big ceremony–but, at least this is a ceremony I can understand. Teachers do touch lives, sometimes even change lives. It encourages me that so many people turn out to give their well-wishes and thanks.

Considering all the crying that goes on, it's surprisingly colorful.

As I live on an island, there are only two ways off–by boat or by plane. Since these teachers are leaving for good, they usually take the ferry. Many of their coworkers and students gather at the ports and attach ribbons to the ferries that are symbolic of…I dunno, maintaining connection? At least until the ribbon breaks or something. <_< (<– shifty eyes). Speeches are given, and of course the ever-important “Banzai,” or May You Live 10,000 Years (or your memory. Or something).

Yoko's third graders thank her for her excellent teaching skills. Those kids idolized her. It was adorable.

My favorite Vice Principal left today and also my very good friend Yoko. Yoko worked at one of the elementary schools on the island, and although I never got to work with her, we did do flamenco together. Yoko is one of the few Japanese people who quickly got my sarcasm, my terrible humor (puns galore), and yet takes me seriously when the situation warrants. She’s such a genuine lady, and ready to help regardless of if she’s busy. Though I can see her whenever I go to the city, I’ll miss having her only a walk away from my house.

But on the plus side, now I have someone to stay with in the city. FREE. That’s good news.

As the ferry set sail, the captain gave us well-wishers a nice, long, thank you honk of the horn. ferries "honk" or is it some other verb?

Following this bittersweet moment, the other foreign English teachers and I went to get hamburgers.

Priorities. We have them.