This week the new school year started in Japan. Why America starts in September and not April is completely beyond me. America is so weird.
On Wednesday was the Nyugakushiki, or entrance ceremony. Schools here do a great job of welcoming first graders. Only the 6th graders and 1st graders go to school on this day. The 6th graders meet the 1st graders at the school entrance, let them know which class they are in, show them where to put their outdoor shoes and indoor shoes, and escort the kids to their classes. Here’s T- in his new classroom.
After all the kids arrive, there is an entrance ceremony held in the gym. Each child is escorted in by a 6th grader while the parents all clap along to a happy song.
Then, speeches are given by a number of people, most of which contained the following points to remember.
- Eat a big breakfast everyday.
- Listen to your teacher.
- Get along with one another.
- Say greetings to each other.
The 6th graders also sang songs to the 1st graders, made speeches, and overall did an awesome job of being big brothers and sisters. It really was a great welcome to elementary school.
Thursday was the first time for all the kids to go to school together. Here are K-, S- and T- as they head off to school together.
K- is carrying a flag because he is the “hancho”, which means leader of the local group of kids that walk to school together. Neighborhood kids meet in a park about a minute from our house, and once all are gathered, walk to school together.
Here they go, off to the park. T- is wearing a traditional school backpack. K- and S- are “too cool” for these, and prefer a regular backpack. Our school district is progressive, and allows kids to use whatever they wish. However, almost all 1st graders use the traditional backpack, which is a rite of passage in Japan.
Hurray for spring and the new school year!