Back to School

The school year has started in Japan!  The past few weeks have been full of preparing all three of our children for their upcoming new classes.  Part of the prep involves lists of supplies that parents need to buy for each child.  Here are some of the things we needed to buy for Olivia:

(If you look closely, you may see that her name is written lovingly 🙂 on each item, as required.  The box of wooden blocks with eighty or so pieces was the most fun.)

After each child starts school, the fun really begins.  Each child brings home an average of about 25 notices and letters from the school  for the parents– all in Japanese of course.  (I am fairly certain this is why Japan has such a low birth rate).  Here are the papers Owen brought home the first day:

We just returned from the sentimental opening ceremony for Olivia, as she begins her school career.  She started youchien today, which is Japanese 1-3 year equivalent for preschool and kindergarten, combined.  Annie is in her third and last year there, so the sisters will enjoy one year of going together.  As I’ve written before, entrances and graduations are really important events in Japan.  Everything is done just so; including “dress codes” for the moms:  pastel suits for entrance ceremonies; black suits with pearls for graduation.  We had a fun time as a family walking together to the event through the showering cherry blossoms (Owen woke up with a stomach ache so he went to school late – we were glad he was around for the photos!):

We loved having our close friends Y. and Mrs. I come and see us off:

Upon arriving at the school, Olivia’s new teacher pinned on her nametag that she will wear from now on.  She is in the bunny rabbit class!

The first five minutes of the actual ceremony were a bit hard to hear because of new children screaming and crying — for some it is the first time they’ve really been separated from their moms.  After things quieted down a bit, Annie and the other youchien children with younger siblings starting all gave (very) short speeches, and then joined the teachers in singing the traditional “Sakura” song as well as “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in Japanese:

We were glad that Olivia knows one little girl in her class from a “Mommy and Me” music class we took together last year.

Annie enjoyed showing Olivia the ropes…

If you’ve read this far, thank you! — and would you right now stop, and just for a minute, pray for our three school-aged children?  You could pray these three things for each of them:  1)  to grow in their understanding this year of God’s love and care for them, even when they are in challenging settings;  2) to grow in their understanding of Japanese language and culture (Owen and Annie are doing relatively well — Olivia only knows a few words so we know these next few months will be challenging);  3) to each mature socially and emotionally as they learn to interact with others in their school, through playdates, etc.  Thanks so much for praying with us.  We count on it as we entrust our children to the local Japanese school system, but more importantly into God’s hands as they go out each day.


5 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. How darling!! I can’t believe you have 3 in school right now!! I’ll pray for them and for you and the paperwork!! How is Annie’s eye doing? How is life with 4? – it will be good to get into a routine with the flow of school. Enjoy your spring days! Let’s try to get a Trout House reunion this summer and catch up in person!!

  2. Sue,
    Great update! Brought tears to my eyes as I remembered those exact days! Emily and Zach LOVED yochien… and we still keep in touch with the encho-sensei. Funny, I think you are right about the birth rate and all the prep and papers needed for school- it is crazy… and a full time job! I am praying lots for you guys!

  3. What a blessing to have the girls in the same school for one year! I cringed at the things you had to get together (I was so glad for a Japanese friend who took me by the hand when B started yochien and got me set up!) and all the notices! Sometimes I wish I had more communication from the boys’ school now, but I don’t miss those reams of paper coming home each day! Prayed for you children.

  4. Dear Takamoto family:

    I am always so grateful for all your correspondence regarding your famly. It makes me feel apart of your family and activities. I look forward to the time that I can see you all again.

    Seeing the photos of Annie entering Japanese school are so enjoyable and I know how difficult they are for you becauseof language and culture. I will continue to pray for all of you and please know that I love each one of you.



  5. Hello,

    I had one of your articles come up at the end of my blog. We are in France with our 9 year old. I don’t know how old your post is, but I certainly enjoyed reading your similar story.

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