Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kindergarten Graduation

Amy's career in kindergarten came to an end with a flourish and a fuss at the 101st Hokubu Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony.

Somber suits, formal speeches and lots of tears. They take this really seriously! Japan's motto seems to be, 'If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well', and they do it, whatever it is, to the utmost best of their ability. The children filed into the hall wearing their usual kindergarten pinafore/jacket with a special pink ribbon rosette to mark the occasion. In groups of four or five, they walked onto the tiny stage in the little kindy hall, and onto a box where they said their name and what they want to be when they grow up. Amy apparently wants to be a cake-shop owner, along with her best buddy Chisaki. Later she told me that was only if her 'boyfriend' Yuji was in the same shop. He wants to be a doctor. I'm sure someone coached him on that answer. Two more honest kids declared they wanted to be supermarket cashiers. One ballerina, a couple of superheros, tons of cake shops owners!

The four then posed for snapshots, and sat down. When they were all finished, it was time to receive their graduation certificates, a real adult-looking one. They called out a big 'HAI' when their name was called, took it in both hands, then bowed. Parents were asked to wait at the side, where they would take the certificate, and hear a message from their child. Amy told me 'Thank you for the omelet'. That's one of her favorite dishes that I put into her lunch box several times a week. I told her I was proud of her, and gave her a kiss and a hug.

Then came the speeches. The principal of the kindy and attached primary school was a bore. The next guy, god knows who, was much better, the kids actually heard what he said as he made an effort to speak directly to them in a manner they understood. Last was a lady who stayed behind the desk rather than go to the lecturn like the Principal or in front of the kids like the second guy.

Next, they sang a song about what they did that year, and the sniffing started. They finished off with a song about becoming a primary school kid, and then the kindergarten song. The children gave the teachers flowers, then the proceedings officially ended, and the guests and grandparents escaped, while we parents had to stay for a budget meeting. More final last words and tears and interminable one-more-things and we finally got away.

The kids were in their classroom, listening to what looked like a rather overwrought final words from their teacher. A lot of them were bawling, and Amy was red-eyed too, although she told me later on that she was just crying because other people were, and that made her cry. Apart from that she was as happy as can be, a box of beans bouncing around the room, posing for photos. Now worries!

She got, as well as the certificate, a memory book, school photo, and gifts including two note pads, colour pencils, plain pencils, a cup with a picture she drew, a DVD of the play she did with the High School last year, and some mochi (pounded rice cakes).
Left to right: With Ms Kakuta, with Rie, her teacher, and with her Mum and Dad

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