Dec 30, 2017

Japanese Kindergarten "Presentation Day" : What on Earth is that?

    For the past few weeks, my family has been plagued by the knowledge that something was coming on December 16th, some kind of a school function, but with no information given aside from the title of the event: Presentation day.

If I concentrate, I can read up to 50% of this board. If I could concentrate...

    My husband, his parents, the school, and my daughter all seemed happy with the non-information available. I took the day off work without knowing how long the event was planned for nor what time it was set to begin nor end. My husband would join me if he could (he couldn't) and we would make it work to hopefully go to my daughter's last music lesson of the year at 1PM on the same day (we did).

    I find it hard to prepare myself when I do not have enough information. Add in my lack of Japanese fluency and social anxiety and we're looking at a panic attack waiting to happen. Luckily it didn't, and the distraction of trying to prepare all foreign-bound Christmas packages before Friday helped me to not freak out too much about whatever this event might be, but the panic in the back of my mind still stopped me from being as effective as I could have been.

    It stands to reason that a December event at a non-Christian kindergarten would be somehow akin to the nativity or other Christmas-themed plays many of us saw growing up in the west, and really the most likely course would involve kids singing and dancing and nothing to be worried about or scared of, but that's assuming you will understand what people are telling you and the crowd over a loudspeaker while others are talking in a language you don't know that well.

The truth of the matter: a version of Pinocchio with tons of fairies and no crickets.
    Truth be told, I wouldn't be wild about this kind of event in English either, but I would likely manage it better because I at least have a clue as to the social norms in my home country. I wouldn't say I am clueless about Japan, but I mess things up on a regular basis, though usually not in life-threatening or terribly important ways. Just little missteps here and there. Always. Like I am trying to perfect the world's most awkward dance. The difference was that I was alone. No in-laws to do the right social things and provide me an example to copy. No husband to do the things without explaining and be surprised when I have no idea what the man who only speaks in keigo said. Just me, and my little wandering 4 year old, figuring it out. 

That's my little pikachu in the back there.
    To my surprise the event was fun. We arrived late due to my misreading the form and fumbling with a multitude of small luggage in the morning. Isn't it surprising how one school backpack plus one normal day backpack plus one music class bag plus one purse plus one bag of slippers adds up to more luggage than anyone would want to carry? As it turns out, the 9:15 arrival time was a little exaggerated, as I had expected, and my little one ran off into her classroom, filled with her classmates in various stages of time-killing-with-newspaper.

    I went to the auditorium/gymnasium and saw a room so filled with people and accessories in seats that I elected to stand at the back for the duration of the program-- a full two hours on my feet in one spot. My right foot went numb twice but I slowly worked it back to life by shifting my weight and curling and uncurling my toes.

The view from my standing position on the back wall.

    From my seat at the back, I was able to record a lot of what my daughter did and enjoyed it immensely. Mostly it was silly, happy songs and dancing in cheap but fun costumes. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

    Now that it is over, I have to say that I am glad I went and I think these things will be less challenging in the future if I just remember not to panic.



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.


  • edthethe

    on Dec 31

    Oh man, the first time I went to one was when I first met my husband. The kindergarten the girls went to was huge, so they had to rent a hall for it and still there weren't enough seats for family. It also meant the presentation lasted most of the day with an i intermission. We had assigned seating which was good because we arrived late(every year)

  • JTsuzuki

    on Dec 31

    @edthethe Assigned seating must be helpful with a school that large! Ours was pretty small, but still people stole seats for their handbags at the expense of parents like me who just had to stand at the back. Weirdly, a couple of families bring 4 or 5 adults for 1 or 2 kids, which seems bizarre to me, but that's life. That must have been a challenge, getting into one of these after just meeting your husband.

  • edthethe

    on Dec 31

    @JTsuzuki it was a learning experience for sure. im glad i got to be a part of it though. also its prepared me for my son when he has to go to kindergarten. we were given explicit instructions not to invite grandparents.