The other day, a good friend of mine in the States asked,
"Does Japan have a ceremony for everything?"
"It certainly seems like it, doesn't it?!"
The list of thing that Japanese have ceremony for is endless....it seems strange to say this,
but...it's the Japanese way.
Japanese especially like to officially celebrate the beginnings and endings of things.
The most obvious would be births and deaths. After a child is born, there is the official visit to the shrine to be blessed when the child is a month old. We have things we do (usually...but sometimes we forget) when a child turns 1, then 3,5 and 7 and then 20 with a few more to follow.
When a person passes away, the funeral is just a mere part of the whole mourning process. For 40 days after the funeral, there are periodical ceremonies and then in particular years after.....until 39 years have passed (sometimes longer depending on the temple) family members will gather for ceremonies celebrating the person who passed away..
In April, entrance ceremonies are very common....everywhere. The beginning of the fiscal year and the welcoming of just-graduated workers and those transferring in are the main reasons for one at a company or business. The end of the year will be one to say "arrigato" to everyone for working so hard, "good luck" to those have transferred and "congratulations" to those retiring. Every school, from kindergarten to university has a ceremony at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year.
Again...it's the Japanese way.
Though I might complain (Who me?) about having to go and find the right clothes (there are unwritten rules, here folks) and having to cancel classes for the day for any of these ceremonies, there is a part of me that sort of likes the whole process. (But...keep in mind that the first years of elementary school, junior high, high school and university are most important and parents attend these, but not the others, usually.)
It's full of speeches that are pretty boring and kids that don't really understand the whole meaning but....it's something you can count on. And really...in times where things are so uncertain, it's nice to know that there are things you know for certain are going to happen.
Plus...it makes the changes that are going to happen a bit more important to those involved.
under the still-blooming cherry trees...
in a gymnasium where the stage was set...
parents waited patiently outside to enter and find their seats.
When the 8th grade and 9th grade students were in their seats and
all was ready....
the band began to play and
the new first year students of Nishiurakami Junior High entered.
The crowd cheered and clapped.
When they were all seated, the principal made a short speech and then each homeroom announced the students in his or her class, one by one.
Upon hearing their names, the students stood up and answered in
a strong voice.
After more speeches and some singing of songs, the students retired to their homeroom to get their first instruction from their teacher.
They also got some of their textbooks.
It was a great day.
A proud day.
One that we will remember forever.
Welcome to Junior High, Issei.
You're going to do great things.
Of this....your mom is sure.
And a little something....just for fun....