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Calvin's Elementary School Entrance Ceremony

Calvin is now an 'ichi-nen-sei', or first-grader, at Koyocho Sho Gakko (Koyocho Elementary School) here on Rokko Island. Every morning at 7:45 Calvin leaves home and goes downstairs to the lobby, where he meets up with several of his friends for the 15-minute walk to school. (Once again, living on Rokko Island has its advantages.)

Calvin carries a large, heavy, stiff, leather book pack called a 'randoseru' (from a French or German word?) that cost about $400. I pleaded for a simple book bag, but no, it simply isn't done in Japan. Everyone carries one of these things, which vary little in design, and only recently have been available in colors other than black (for boys) or red (for girls). The vast majority of the students, however, still choose a black or red one. At least at this school, Calvin doesn't have to wear one of those black military style uniforms that most Japanese schools require.

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 In Japan, the first day of entering Elementary, Junior High, and High School -- and even The Company -- is extremely important and must be marked with the proper respect and a solemn ritual called the 'entrance ceremony.' All the kids dress up in little suits (we had to buy one for Calvin!), as do all the parents (except that strange foreigner with the curly red hair and beard, who nevertheless had to be persuaded with a boat oar not to show up in shorts, T-shirt and slippers).

At least part of the purpose of the ceremony is to impress upn the inductees the importance of this stage of life in which they are expected to work their hardest, show proper respect for figures of authority, and not bring shame upon the benevolent institution conferring the blessing of the entrance ceremony. (Maybe that's what's wrong with the American education system. It don't get no respect.)

In the photo at right, Calvin is standing with classmate Kaori just outside the front gate of the school after their entrance ceremony.


 It was interesting to note that only about 6 of the mothers wore formal kimono, the rest wore semi-formal western outifts. If you click the official photo at the right (jpeg, 52k) you can see that there was only one kimono in Calvin's class. Kimono, though beautiful, are too expensive and take too long to put on. Also, fewer younger Japanese women know how to properly put one on!  Top

Exiting the Entrance Ceremony.  Top

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