*This is somewhat of a late post, being a month after the fact. I have had a crazy month of travel, which I will attempt to blog about later on*
What a day. Up at the crack of dawn and back well after the day has finished. It all started early, getting ready for the graduation ceremony that takes place every 5th of March, ceremoniously regardless of the day. So, even though it was Sunday, I made my way into school (after battling the epic problem that is my hair!) to get dressed in a hakama (袴) for the ceremony, This had been one of the things that I had wanted to do since arriving in Japan, and luckily the lovely office staff asked if I would like to partake and of course I jumped at the chance. (I’m pretty sure at other schools it is exclusively the homeroom teachers(担任先生) that get dressed up, but luckily I was extended the invitation which was heartwarming!)
The process was so elaborate, so many pieces of fabric, best accentuating a woman’s features. And boy did it suck everything in! After about a half an hour of tying and retying (because I have super long limbs and feet, especially in this country) I was done. Luckily due to extensive practice wearing dance costumes it made this whole process a lot easier. It was tight but bearable (but became a little tough on the back towards the end).
The ceremony itself was quite stiff and serious (as are most Japanese ceremonies). Each student from each graduating class was announced and then a representative from each class came forward to receive the certificates. It was very solemn and official. After the ceremony was over the ‘senpai kouhai’ 先輩 澎湃 relationship, with the students from the younger grades awaiting their先輩 from their club teams to congratulate them. After congratulating the students that I had taught, it was time to escape the constraint of the hakama 袴!
Last year I had been informed of the graduation party that follows the ceremony for the parents of the graduating students and the teachers, but I had then promptly forgotten about it. However, due to the kindness of one of the teachers who called up the venue to make sure it was okay that I came and that I would have a vegetarian meal, I went along. It was a strange evening and a strange time (3-5pm) and such a mix of formal and informal. Though it was great to see the upper crust of the school let loose and have some fun (free booze will do that to you!)
After the official party was over, I was lucky enough to be invited to the after party. My colleagues know how to party and I was so thankful and full of joy to be included in the celebrations. They could have thought that it was too hard or too much trouble to communicate with someone who does not speak their language well, but they muddled through with their broken English, as I muddled through with my broken Japanese and we were able to communicate just perfectly. Teachers with whom I have not had a single conversation with the whole 7 months I have worked at this school, I was able to chat with freely. It was the perfect end to a lovely celebratory day.