Maia is starting preschool this year and part of starting preschool (or any school for that matter) in Japan is the entrance ceremony for all new children. Preschool in Japan ranges from just one year (5-6 years old) through to three years (3-6 years old) and we have decided that one year of preschool is enough.
The entrance ceremony is usually held on the first day or a day just before preschool starts and all Mums and (some/most) Dads do attend. We arrived at Maia’s preschool and were taken to her classroom where her teacher talked to the Mums and children about what’s going to happen in the actual ceremony. Meanwhile I was asked to go upstairs to the sports hall (with Emma) and wait. We went upstairs and found the place packed. The front two-thirds was all laid out with benches for all the different grades and classes with seats for the children and their mothers, fathers and other siblings were all packed in the back third.
Emma and I made our way to the back part and found a space to sit. Many fathers had their video cameras out and ready to record. Emma and I tried to get comfortable and waited. Ten minutes later the classes started coming up the stairs and the children and mothers made their way to the seats in front.
After another ten minutes of waiting it started with everyone standing then the head mistress gave a speech welcoming the new students and then each class (mums and children) was brought up to the front and introduced as a whole (no personal introductions). Once all the classes were introduced (which took ~30 minutes) the classes and all parents and any siblings were brought up for a “new-comer class photo” after Maia’s class photo was done we then went back downstairs to the classroom.
Back in the classroom children and parents sat in a semi-circle where the teacher outlined a few administrative matters, new students were given a present (some wrapped biscuits) – Emma chucked a wobbly and wanted her own – and then parents were asked to make a quick jikoshoukai ( じこしょうかい) – self introduction which is quite standard in Japanese.
“Hi we’re John and Jane, Lucy’s parents and this is her younger sister Kathy. We’re from Sydney but we lived in Perth for a couple of years. Nice to meet you all.”
Once this was all done the entrance ceremony was all over and it was time to leave, go back to the entrance collect your shoes and go.
Now, all-in-all this itself wasn’t too bad but, of course, we were all glad that it was over and we could go home and get out of our gear.