Sunday, March 22, 2009


This week has been graduation week for kindergarten through high school in my part of Japan. On Tuesday I went to the kindergarten ceremonies.

This is my friend and student and she was telling me about the trials of getting herself ready for her daughter's kindergarten graduation. Most mothers wear black or at least somber colors. A few mothers will go all out to wear a kimono but it involves a lot of work. Mrs. Matsumoto's kimono is her mother's but she said she had to have the sleeves shortened in order for it to be an appropriate kimono to wear to a formal event (for her age). That alone cost quite a lot and then she was told she needed to buy a suitable obi (belt) and under-kimono. And I'm not talking about hundreds of dollars. Add a zero. In the end she resewed one of her mother's under-kimonos and found a lovely obi at a recycle shop. (We went looking together and there were SOOO many beautiful kimonos for a piddling!) She had her friend dress her but often it is necessary to go to a professional kimono dresser to even get into and tie the obi in the fitting knot in the back.

At the elementary school graduation, all the 6th graders wear their up-coming jr. high school uniform as a sign of formality (and the mother's are in black again). I talked with one of my English students on his way back from graduation on Thursday and he was wearing the black high collar traditional uniform seen throughout Japan. When I first came to Japan so many students were wearing this traditional black outfit that I thought there was a national funeral going on! (picture from the internet)

And on the way back from kindergarten graduation I stopped in to a bakery and found these little filled breads on sale. They say things like "Congratulations" and "Happy Graduation". I think they are filled with chocolate cream.


Mimi said...

Dear Tanya,

Thank you so much for sharing so much of your life in Japan. It's amazing to hear about the customs and things that happen in your part of the world.

I really enjoy learning from you.


Rae Ann said...

I'd be in culture shock! I don't understand why the Mother's wear Black. Black to me is morbid, one would think graduation is a happy time! Like always Tanya, I love learning the culture from you. If only my mother were here.....You'll have to continue to be my teacher!
Rae Ann

Anne said...

Thank you so much for sharing your culture with us. I find it so fasinating. I did not realize that they have to wear uniforms. We still have some of Garry's mom kimonos that she broght with her from Japan. The material is beautiful. They do not fit any one and I know a lady that makes teddy bears from old clothes, so I had them made for each of the grandchilden to remember grandma by.

Betty (picture circa 1954) said...

I'm just fascinated with your posts on life in Japan. I've led a sheltered life and assumed most women in Japan wore a kimona every day! I now realize how impossible that would be. Very interesting...thanks.