Monday, March 26, 2007

Graduation in March!

Graduation in March?!! I must be crazy. I know a lot of you guys are thinking that but that is not the case in Japan. Over there, the school year begins in April and graduation is usually in early March. They have their finals for HS Seniors in early February. Hence, they're available to pass entrance exams for the universities before graduation.

Graduation in Japan is a very big deal. They even have it in kindergarten! The graduation ceremony ceremony consists basically of students receiving graduation certificates, but because it's the last event of the school year, it's conducted in a very solemn manner. Each and everything is planned even down to the seconds.

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The principal opens with an address, followed by speeches from invited guests. The certificates are then handed one by one to the students by the principal. It's an event in which everyone graduating is a hero or heroine. After the students receive their diplomas, all participants sing "Hotaru no hikari" (light of fireflies) together.

Other songs may be performed, too, but "Hotaru" is sung at virtually all schools. The song's melody comes from the Scottish folk tune "Auld Lang Syne," with lyrics in Japanese. The Ministry of Education approved the song for singing in schools back in 1881.

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