Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Special Days

It's graduation season, which has led to a host of "special days" at my school. (My school's name is two words, both of which start with Ch, so let's call it Cha Cha School.)

I've heard the reason that the Japanese school year begins in April is to coincide with the blooming of the cherry blossoms. Can anyone confirm this? I hope it's true, because that's just precious.

Anyway, Cha Cha School had its graduation earlier this month, and despite the jaunty school name, it was one somber affair. Before the ceremony even started, it was dead silent. Seriously, none of the parents were even speaking to one another. Once things got rolling, each student was addressed individually and had to leap out of his/her seat with a "HAI!" And the standing and bowing, oh my Lord. Possibly 20 times we did that, at the start and end of each speech. And before speaking, each person had to bow to: the Japanese flag, the people on the right, the people on the left, and the audience. Of  course I couldn't understand a word of any of the speeches but I'm guessing they all amounted to, "Well done," and "Wasn't Sports Day great?" At the end, the students left by class in a single file line. First the boys (SEXIST!) then the girls, 50% of whom were weeping. Which like... you WANT to stay in Japanese High School? Buh? Strange form of masochism maybe?

Probably the funniest part was the immaculately dressed and coiffed parents with... garishly colored bedroom slippers on their feet. (Indoor shoes required.) This is a hilarious Japanese phenomenon. Dress code is super important, but it's totally cool to wear your power suit with Crocs. Nice shoes are for outdoors.

Today is also a special day: junior high students come to take Cha Cha School's entrance exam. Students have to be accepted to high school, and it's this whole intense process bla bla, but then they often choose which schools to apply to based on their uniforms, so, you know. Very serious stuff. Anyway, the teachers are all UBER stressed out because apparently if they make any kind of mistake with test administration and/or collection, the BOE will have them drawn and quartered. Having nothing to do, the following conversation transpired:

Me: Oh, can I do anything to help? Like, I could grade the English exams or something...
Teacher: Well... if we make any mistake the Board of Education will punish us.

In other words, they won't let me help because they think I'm likely to eff it up. Since I'm a native English speaker and all, I'm much likelier to make an error grading the English exams than the Japanese teachers... oh, wait.

So yeah, today is test day and tomorrow is grading day, also known as Two Days of Bullshitting Around Online and Getting Paid For It for me. Not too bad!

Another cool thing about special days is that we can order special bentos. Now, I have no idea where these come from, but they're way awesomer than our usual bentos, and if I wasn't too embarrassed I'd have taken a photo of the one I just probably grossly consumed. Maybe there's a Special Bento Shop that eagerly awaits Cha Cha and other schools' events so they can bestow upon them their wares, I don't know. But they're definitely the best thing about special days.