The Long Sayonara

The end of the school year in Japan is filled with emotional events and ceremonies. The farewell activities at the deaf school started a couple of weeks ago with the wakare ensoku (translated, it means “separation field trip”). This was supposed to involved a picnic in the park with all of the kindergarten classes, giving the three-year-olds and four-olds one last fling with their elders, who will be moving up to first grade. It rained, however, so they ate lunch in the playroom.

For the past couple of weeks, the different classes have been preparing gifts and performances for today’s wakare kai (farewell party, I guess you’d say). This began with a ceremony in the playroom. The three five-year-olds took turns as master-of-ceremonies. The first event was the ceremonial giving of presents. The four and five-year-olds made medals and bags out of construction paper and presented these with as much formality as you’d expect. Then the mothers of the younger kids gave the graduates-to-be bouquets of flowers and wrapped gifts (which turned out to be pencils and erasers to be used from April).

Next, the six-year olds presented their gifts – handmade furoshiki (wrapping cloths) and pictures of themselves decorated with origami roses. Each kid had to say a little something. Lilia was supposed to say/sign, “We made roses out of origami. Let’s be friends always.” She got the first part right, but she was really nervous and forgot the second. She wound up signing “We were always friends.” Oh, well.

This was followed by the entertainment portion in which the two three-year-olds and their teachers managed to perform “The Three Little Pigs,” the four-year-olds acted out “Billy Goats Gruff,” and the six-year-olds played the castanets. Finally, the mothers did a song with sign language, which we practiced for many times.

After lunch, everyone played at shopping together. The big kids had a crepe stall.

The next big event in the long sayonara is the graduation ceremony which will be held next week.

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