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

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