Funeral or Graduation?
For a minute, I forgot I was here. Things used to turn my head and leave me with a puzzled look on my face about 15 times a day, but now I'd say, it's down to about 5. But, I had a reality check a couple of weeks ago where I was left thinking, "Whoa, I'm in Japan."
I went to our high school graduation and it was the most solemn and intimidating event. Everyone was dressed in all black. With thousands sat in the gym, not a single cough, sneeze, shuffle or sniffle could be heard. It was military style. I couldn't spot one person in this entire crowd who wasn't sitting straight, legs uncrossed, and hands straight out. All this pomp and circumstance made me want to stand up and start screaming to break the silence. Even the fully coordinated bows were sharper than usual with not a single student out of sync.
This made me think of American graduation and any other "formal" ceremony we have. Everyone seems to be cheering and family members sometimes bring foghorns to grab their graduate's attention and be ghetto. Even in weddings, supposedly one of the most intimate and sacred occasions, there's always room for interjecting estranged lovers or senile parents. "Speak now or forever hold your peace..." Could you even imagine something like that happening at any Japanese event?! Even if there was an opportunity for people to speak up, no one would take it unless they wanted to commit social suicide. There would be no more of those jelly green tea sweets on their desks. No invitations to ride their bikes together to "Seven Erreven" (7/11). Shit, you can just forget about getting a good spot next to the poisonous kerosene heater.
All the 3rd graders (these are the seniors; J-high schools only have 3 grades as opposed to U.S. high schools which have 4) went outside to celebrate after the ceremony was over. I must admit that I will miss these kids, even if the boys giggle like girls everytime they say, "Hello!" or "I am sexy man"..and the girls insist on grabbing parts of my body that shouldn't be grabbed.