For those who have their children attend Japanese schools, we are about to enter the ceremony season. Starting from graduation ceremonies in mid-March, it’s common for students and parents to host thank-you parties for teachers and school staffs, and next comes the entrance ceremonies of the upper schools which your children will attend next.
Let’s take a look on the common contents and flow of each ceremony.
Graduation ceremonies are held in all schools of all educational levels in Japan (from Kindergartens to Universities). Taking elementary school graduation ceremonies as examples, it is quite common in Japan for all graduating students and their parents to dress up and attend. There are no rules for the parents regarding what to wear, but mothers tend to wear dark colored dresses with jackets or kimonos, and fathers dress in a suit and tie. Usually the ceremony programs look like this:
- Opening address
- National anthem and school song
- Awarding graduation certificates
- Principal’s speech
- PTA President’s speech
- Commemorative gift presentation – from PTA to graduating students
- Commemorative gift presentation – from graduating students to the school
- Farewell speeches – junior students
- Farewell speeches – graduating students
- Farewell song (Traditional farewell song: “Hotaru no Hikari” or Auld Lang Syne)
- Closing address
Thank-you Parties for the Teachers:
Thank-you parties are generally hosted by graduating students or parents for the teachers and school staffs after the graduation ceremonies. There are no fixed flows but looks like it’s common to arrange someone from both sides (students and teachers) to give small speeches or add entertainments that everyone can enjoy.
Entrance ceremonies usually take place in the first week of April. Just like graduation ceremonies, new students are invited with their parents to attend. Unlike what they wore for graduation ceremonies, mothers tend to wear bright colored dress and jackets for this special day. Officially this day is a new beginning full of new friends and opportunities for the whole family. If you’re lucky enough, you will be able to take family pictures with your children in their brand new school uniforms under the beautiful cherry blossoms.
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