Monday, March 15, 2010

End of an era

Today Alistair became the last of the Ferguson boys to finish his pre-school days. It was the graduation ceremony at the Hiragishi kindergarten. The kindergarten is large by Hokkaido standards with well over 300 children. This morning some 117 children duly 'graduated', resplendent in their uniforms complete with decoration flower. Everyone else gets dressed up too - one or two of the mothers even wore a kimono. The all-female teachers wore the standard black suit which comes out on such occasions. In Japan they do these kind of ceremonies so well, especially those which mark a transition and there is a real sense of closure, usually with not a few tears too. The ceremony was conducted with great dignity and precision, with much bowing; the speeches were given in very polite language; the children were able to sing and recite long chunks of Japanese impeccably. Even when the young teacher who was handing out the certificates on stage keeled over and fainted, the show went on as smoothly as before. Within a few seconds, she was helped off stage, another teacher took her place and the children continued processing forward to receive their certificates. Afterwards, the children went to their respective classrooms for a farewell time with their teacher. More certificates, more speeches, more tears, but a real sense of one chapter being closed well and the children being left with many happy memories of their kindergarten days. School for Alistair starts on 6th April and we will write then about how well the Japanese mark the start of something new.

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