Thursday 7 April 2022

入学式(にゅうがくしき)― Entrance Ceremony


The journey of a thousand miles begins with an Entrance Ceremony. Today, as is the tradition all over Japan, we welcomed 139 first year students to middle school. Here’s an account of how it went down (from the POV of a student I guess).

You wake up excited and nervous all at once, get ready quickly and head for the only junior high school in town. In elementary school you could wear whatever you chose and your choice of cool indoor shoes was entirely yours but here you are with your new classmates, in your first school uniform ever! You are let into the school, welcomed by teachers in the reception where you take off your outdoor shoes and don a pair of white and green Asics indoor sneakers - the same as everyone else’s. Even your school bags are the same. Then you are told to go to your classroom on the fourth floor to get ready for the ceremony. 

At the appointed time, you form two lines of boys and girls and march in pairs behind your teacher into the gym where the entrance ceremony will take place. After everyone has marched in and sat down, boys to the right and girls to the left, a roll call is made and when you hear your name you answer “Hai,” get on your feet to register your presence, and become officially inducted into the school system. 

You quickly notice the element of “uniformity” and immediately sense and feel the need to do and be one with the group. You wonder if there’ll ever be a time that you’d be allowed to do and be you, especially if you don’t enjoy going with the crowd much. But not to worry, you’ll figure it out as you ease into the school life rhythm. For today, relax and enjoy the pomp and pageantry put together for your first day. The teachers are all dressed up for this occasion, but the fancy suits, dress shoes, pearl earrings and necklaces will all be gone by tomorrow, replaced with more comfortable clothes and running shoes to get to you at the speed of light. 

You’re going to meet the rest of the student community tomorrow, your 先輩たち in the second and third grades. Listen, watch and learn and you’ll be fine. Welcome to junior high school life. 


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