When our son started primary school and on his first day we all were invited to go to the school opening ceremony. The dress code was for all parents to be dressed up in their Sunday best and it seemed that most of the mothers tried to out dress each other. I was in your average plane black suit, white shirt and tie.
We all were seated in the school’s sports gym with the parents at the back and the children to be seated at the front. The schools s head teacher introduced himself as the first year students, escorted by the year six students, entered the gym and took their seats. The head teacher then walked to the front of the gym;, bowed and walked up onto the stage and gave a speech on how great the school was and that they, the children, have made a wise decision to join this school. At his back was a huge Japanese flag hung along with the words written out congratulating everyone on joining this school.
We were all asked to stand and sing the Japanese national anthem with all the teachers and students singing along like they were at a football match. Once everyone was seated teach each teacher then went on to introduced themselves and to thanked the parents for letting their children attend this school. We went around each and every teacher and staff member; from the head teacher all the way to the kitchen staff and cleaners. Each and every staff member did a small speech about how great the school is and thanking the parents for choosing their school even though the local government had already assigned children to public schools in the areas they live.
Next we had all the nursery head teachers and owners congratulate the children that graduated from their schools and now where attending primary school. Each and every nursery teacher bowed and thanked the parents for attending their schools and wished the children the best of luck.
At the end the children were escorted out of the gym and back to their classrooms. We the parents then followed and where asked to join them in the classrooms. At this time the class teacher introduced herself and went over some basic classroom rules and gave all the parents the children’s textbooks and workbooks.
The experience was very different to anything I would have expected and at some points I really thought I was signing my son up for the military. The bowing and singing of the national anthem was a bit too much for an Englishmen but I really enjoyed the experience.