Merry Christmas, Japanese Style (Part 2)

As I wrote in last week’s post, the kindergarten at which I work recently had their Christmas program – the three- and four-year-olds one week, and the five-year-olds the following week. Today’s post is about the five-year-olds!

One thing that I did not mention in the last post is that the parents, who have to find a seat on the floor of the gym, line up early to get a seat as close to the front as possible. I found this out the hard way, the first week of the program. My apartment is on the first floor, directly beside the driveway that leads into the kindergarten. That means I can hear the employees, parents, and children talking every morning as they walk past my apartment on their way to school – especially in the summer, when I have my window open!

Anyway, early in the morning on the day of the three- and four-year-olds’ program, I heard loud voices outside my apartment as I slept. Only half awake, I kept trying to figure out why there were voices so early in the morning. I slept for awhile, but the first couple of voices were joined by more voices, until I was finally awakened for good around six thirty. Since I can’t look out my window without being seen, I continued to remain baffled about the voices until I saw my coworker later, who told me that all the people outside had been parents waiting for the program to start.

Well. With that knowledge in mind, I decided to go to bed early the next weekend, so I wouldn’t lose sleep from the five-year-olds’ parents chattering. I forgot all about that plan – until I woke up early Saturday morning by voices outside my wall. I looked at the clock, just for the record. Five fifteen. FIVE FIFTEEN! The program doesn’t start until eight forty-five, people! And it’s COLD out there!

Apparently, when you’re a proud parent of a performing five-year-old whose every move MUST be captured on video with no heads obstructing the view, none of that matters. Fortunately, the parents this week were much quieter than last week’s, so I was able to fall right back asleep and not wake up until my alarm went off.

The format for the five-year-olds’ program was very similar to the previous weekend’s. More singing, dancing, frilly and sparkly costumes, and blowing and banging on various musical instruments. The girls, all dressed in white, did a beautiful rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” which my coworker had taught them. Since we were next to the stage getting ready for our own performance, I regrettably didn’t have my camera on hand to capture it.

There was also a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk:

A couple more plays followed, and then the band performance:

I marveled at all the work and the practicing that must have gone into these programs. Do we put that much effort into our performances in America? Since I didn’t go to kindergarten in America, I don’t have anything to compare it to. But I do feel like that’s one thing this country does well – not being afraid to work hard in order to make an event successful.

As a thank you for participating in the program (singing three carols and reading the Christmas story), we got lunch provided for us both weeks. The first week, we also got a Christmas cake. Yes, Christmas CAKE. Forget the sugar cookies and gingerbread men; here in Japan it’s all about a fluffy, white cake with equally fluffy, white frosting, topped with a strawberry (or two or three) and an edible chocolate decoration. There are other varieties besides white cake, too; I’m still hoping to receive a chocolate cake!

Here’s the small cake I got:

And here is the grocery store’s Christmas flyer, advertising the cakes for sale!

On that note, it’s time to say a temporary goodbye. I’ll be going home for Christmas vacation, so I’ll be taking a short break from blogging so I can spend as much time as possible visiting with my family and stuffing my face with my favorite American food! Merry Christmas everyone!

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