Annie’s Opening Ceremony

This week was Annie’s first week of school… the first for many, many years to come (If I try and add them up and times it by 3 children I might faint so let’s just leave it at many many years).

On Tuesday we had the special rite of passage, “nyuenshiki.” This is the opening ceremony of preschool/kindergarten, important enough to warrant businessman fathers with very few vacation days to take off work… the cause of many diets as moms try and fit into their best social suits. Hairdressers’ busiest days of the years are spring break as parents and children gear up for school opening ceremonies with the latest coiffure. (More about the dressing up at this previous post!)

Even with the smallest size outfit, Annie still swam in her new uniform…but her joy could not be hidden behind her hat and over-sized jacket. She was quite delighted to be joining her big brother and going to yochien! Our friends Yasko and Ishida-san came to see us off…

Once we arrived at the school, Annie met her new teacher, who pinned her name badge on. Annie was happy to greet several friends she has played with in the past.

Annie marched with her new classmates into the opening ceremony, where all the moms were sitting in chairs and all the dads were in the bleachers taking photos. There were a number of chidren crying, going through anxiety separation from their moms, but everyone seemed to somehow make it through the event. Owen was asked to memorize and recite a sentence in Japanese as one of the older siblings still at the school. He did a great job!

We loved watching the teachers up front leading in several songs. These are “our” teachers: from left to right, Owen’s current new teacher, his last year’s teacher, and Annie’s new teacher.

As much as I sometimes complain about the length and trivality of some events in Japan, I have to admit that I love the “ritualness” of such celebrations. There was no question for the young children, the parents, or the grandparents that this is a very significant event in the life of a child. The decorations, the order of events, the regality — all of these helped to create a significant ritual that will not soon be forgotten. We had some very tired children at the end; tired, but ready for the adventures of a new school year to start.


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