Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Roppongi Art Night 2013

Last weekend the yearly Roppongi Art Night was held: from sunset to dawn the whole area of Roppongi was centred around art. Art centers and museums were open for the whole night (free, or discounted admission), and many extra exhibitions and events were held around the famous buildings of Roppongi.

Central street in Roppongi

Luckily the weather in Tokyo already feels like spring, so the temperatures were quite nice to walk around at night. Not surprisingly, Roppongi was crowded with visitors giving the festival a nice busy atmosphere. It was actually our first visit to most of the museums/areas, so we had lots to explore. Luckily we had a whole night to do so!

National art center
Mori Tower
The central theme of this year was 'trip', featured in many displays of crafted artwork of boats. Different ideas and inspirations of artist had lead to a great variety of boats, and were always surrounded by people taking pictures (no longer a surprise to us, since by know we have learned that Japanese people love taking pictures always)

 In some of the parks around the museums and building you could even combine art night with some cherry blossoms viewing: a perfect night out in spring time Tokyo!

Sakura trees at Roppongi Hills

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Graduation ceremony

March is in Japan the month of the graduation ceremonies (Sotsugyoushiki). It is the end of the Japanese school year, and for all those students who are graduating big ceremonies and parties are being held. Graduation ceremonies are an important part of the Japanese education culture. The ceremony is held in all schools from elementary school to university. Even my language school had its own graduation ceremony!
Normally the graduation ceremony will be held in a nice looking venue (which the school rents especially for this occasion), there will be much nice decorations and traditionally everyone will be beautifully dressed. I even saw several beauty salons offer special services to help make sure you can look your best in perfect kimono and perfect hair-style!

Luckily, at my language school it wasn't all that formal. Actually there are many student who don't graduate in March, but study until they either find a job or want to return to their own country which can be any time during the year. Therefore, most students actually finishing in March are those entering Japanese university next month. The ceremony is however for all students in classes above intermediate level, so also the students who don't graduate yet (and do not yet get their certificate) will participate in the ceremony. So, even though I plan to be studying till June I got to experience my first Japanese graduation ceremony.

The main event of the ceremony is of course the handing out of the certificates. But further, all classes are required to do a class performance (a song, a drama, etc.). The rehearsals sometimes felt a little like you were back in elementary school (and not all students were really motivated), but I think they also just wanted us to use our Japanese in a different way then during normal class: discussing what song to sing, who should be standing where, etc.,etc.
The actual ceremony was quite fun, and it was great to see all teachers so involved with the students and their graduation. After the ceremony we had a little graduation party, with some extra chances to take pictures and say goodbyes to the students leaving.

School group picture

(part of) my class at the graduation party