Sunday, March 7, 2010

Funeral... I mean Graduation

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting on Friday when I attended my first Japanese junior high school graduation ceremony but i'm quite sure I wasn't expecting to feel like I had walked straight into a funeral!
Like Nathan said in his last blog, graduations over here are a big deal! Unlike at home where graduations are really only reserved for University etc, at the end of the school year here every level of schooling has a ceremony dedicated to those graduating.
I think it's a great idea to celebrate the end of one school era and the beginning of another -"celebrate" being the operative word!
But what I discovered was that rather than celebrating the new beginning and everything they had achieved, graduation was instead about mourning the end of school as they had known it.
My first hint that is was going to be far from a happy occasion was when I arrived to find everyone dressed in black head to toe... a message that clearly wasn't passed on to me seeing as I turned up wearing grey pants and a pink top!!
The next sign was the ridiculously sad music they played while the 3rd graders paraded in - it was enough to bring a tear to anyone's eye!
Then came the eulogies (speeches) by various people all of whom not once cracked a smile, joke or even looked faintly to be happy for the school leavers. Parents sat weeping, teachers sat with their eyes cast to the ground while the students literally spent the entire hour and a half sobbing.
When it came time for each student to have their moment in the limelight by way of coming to the stage to receive their certificate I thought surely this must be when the mood will lighten a little.... But no.... from the time they left their chair, got their certificate and went back to sit down they had each bowed an impressive 8 times... how they managed to do this in between sobs is beyond me!
It was then time to sing the school song one final time... something that proved just too much for everyone (it had all got too much for me so even I had a tear by this stage).
And just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any worse the principal then handed over the 3rd grade flag to be wrapped and bound and from what I could gather 'laid to rest' - but not before being carried out like a coffin with everyone following in its wake.
So there you have it! Certainly not what I was expecting but interesting all the same! I wonder how the elementary school one will compare next week! Surely there will be at least one smile!


fergies said...

I don't get it??!! How very wierd.Sounds bizare!!!D