A TIME WHEN CHILDREN BLOSSOM
School Ceremonies Coincide with Cherry Blossom Season (April 17, 2003)
Japanese educational institutions, from elementary schools
to universities, hold their graduation ceremonies in March and their entrance
ceremonies in April. Tears of emotion flow freely at graduation ceremonies as
the leavers bid goodbye to their friends and teachers. At entrance ceremonies
the following month, incoming students feel a mixture of hope and anxiety about
what life at their new school will be like. Parents turn out in large numbers
at both types of ceremony to celebrate these important landmarks in their children's
lives. The cherry trees that line most schoolyards come into full bloom around
this time. The blossom comes earlier in southern regions
of Japan's long archipelago and later in northern areas.
|An entrance ceremony at an elementary school. (PANA)
Graduation Ceremonies: A Solemn Affair
For children and parents alike, school graduation and entrance ceremonies are
steeped with memories. Graduation is held in late March, typically in the school
gym or auditorium, with all students and teachers in attendance. The ceremonies
are somber affairs consisting of congratulatory speeches by the principal and
guest speakers; the handing out of diplomas; farewell addresses by representatives
of graduating students; and messages of thanks and good luck to the graduates
from remaining students. As the standard graduation song is sung, many teary-eyed
faces can be seen around the hall.
According to fashion experts, this solemn occasion calls for the wearing of subdued
colors like black, navy blue, or gray. Some parents show up in kimono, though
this traditional attire is less common nowadays. If the school has a school uniform,
the students wear that to the graduation ceremony. At schools where there is no
uniform, students wear something a bit smarter than their everyday clothing for
graduation. This often means formal trousers and blazers or suits for boys and
formal dresses for girls. For junior college and college graduation ceremonies,
many female students don brightly colored hakama (loose
trousers worn over a kimono in Japanese ceremonial dress).
"Welcome to Your New School"
School entrance ceremonies take place in early April. Like graduation ceremonies,
entrance ceremonies are rather solemn. Both students and parents generally wear
light colors such as beige, pink, or white that are in keeping with the season
of spring. In recent years, some parents of elementary-school entrants have sought
to make their little ones stand out from the rest at entrance ceremonies by dressing
them differently. Blazers with short trousers are the standard entrance-ceremony
attire for little boys. For little girls, dresses paired with frilly cardigans
or boleros are all the rage. White collars, checks, and crisp, chic blues are
One of the most recognizable elements of how new elementary-school students dress
is the gleaming backpack-style satchels they carry their school books in. In the
case of first-graders in particular, the satchel sometimes looks bigger than the
child! The most popular colors for satchels have traditionally been black for
boys and red for girls. But the trend toward individual choice has recently extended
itself even to this old standard, and big department stores are expanding their
satchel selections to include ones in pink, navy, and a variety of other colors.
And students are now expressing their individuality (or perhaps their parents
are expressing it for them) by choosing their school satchels by material (for
example, ultralightweight models weighing less than a kilogram) or manufacturer
(there are now even designer-label satchels).
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
SCHOOL SPORTS DAYS
(November 18, 2002)
NEW TWIST TO AN OLD CEREMONY
(March 22, 2001)