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March is the month that many Japanese people may feel a bit sentimental because it is a kind of ‘Meeting and Parting Season’. In schools also, there are many graduation ceremonies are held from mid to end of March since Japanese fiscal year starts from April.
During Graduation Ceremony
It might be rare to attend the Japanese graduation ceremony if you do not have any connection unless you are enrolled in school, your child goes to the school, or you work for school. It is actually interesting to see it and possibly a bit different from your country. Of course, it is a ceremony, hence like any other ceremony in your country, there are usual speeches such as opening, closing and appreciation one… but the significant things would be recitation and songs done by all graduates besides individuals’ speech. Graduates usually need to practice for several times and remember the phrases before the ceremony. As you might hear it weird, but every speech that people make, all attendants are asked to stand up, bow and then sit down, which is to show the respect for those who give speeches.
After The Ceremony
Time to get the second button of school uniform
Most of the Japanese schools have a uniform in junior high and high school. After the graduation, if a girl has a secret crushed on the particular graduate, this is the moment to confess her interest on the person by asking for the second button of school uniform. Various theories explained why the second button is particularly asked for. One says that second button is nearest to the heart that people consider it special. The other says that it is an influence from the old war movie which showed the girl received the second button from the boy before the battle. If the boy gave the first one, the jacket would be loose; therefore he gave the second one. Whatever the beginning of this practice, it is still an exciting moment for the girls and probably for the boys as well…
For graduation, it is also common to give flowers and message board to the graduate (senior) from junior, especially if students belong to the sports or cultural club in school. In addition, even to the homeroom teacher, students collect the messages in a piece of thick board for appreciation.
Hakama Costume for University Graduation Ceremony
Since Universities don’t have a uniform, for the graduation ceremony, graduates wear any formal uniform; Men just dress formal suit and tie as usual, but for ladies, the most popular one would be Hakama. This used to be a school uniform for ladies during the Meiji Period and today it is inherited as a graduation costume.