Gaijin Smash

Graduation

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on March 18, 2005

Note: I make no claims for the possible entertainment value of this editorial. In fact, there may be none.

I went to the sannensei’s graduation. Back in America, junior high school graduation is no big deal. In fact, most of us were pretty happy to get the hell out of there. The same held true for high school too. Some person, in their infinite wisdom, chose Sarah MacLaughlin’s “I Will Remember You” as our graduation song. Bah. I still say the person responsible for that should be imprisoned with no hope of parole. We all ad-libbed it anyway, so the result was a graduating class of about 400 seniors bitterly singing, “I WON’T remember you. And you WON’T remember me.” Yeah, we were a tight-knit bunch.
In Japan, it’s a big deal. These kids are all going to different high schools, and for the past three years this has been their lives. Seriously, they probably spend more time at their Jr. High Schools than they do at home. So it’s quite a change for them, and graduation is taken seriously as such.
If you ever find yourself in a Japanese graduation ceremony for some reason, be prepared for a lot of crying.
This is one crying culture I have to say. It seems like every TV show is built upon making the viewer cry at some point. They love showing touching human drama stories on the variety shows, and then as soon as the story is finished, they cut to the celebrities watching, and make sure to get them crying on camera. Some shows don’t even wait – they do a picture in picture of the celebrity watching, so you can see them crying as the story unfolds. There’s a show on Monday evenings starring a member from SMAP (Goro, if you are familiar with them), who hosts little kids (elementary schoolers) and tells them ghost stories designed to freak the holy shit out of them. Every episode has them at recoiling in horror at least twice, and crying over some touching ghost story. How much is this fucking them up? Seriously. I oftentimes wonder how the men and women of this country get to be so fucked up, but then I see shows like this and I don’t wonder so much anymore.


So graduation is more or less designed for crying. They call the students’ names and hand out certificates while playing some sad violin music in the background. After a few speeches from the appropriate figureheads, the new student body president (in this case, a ninensei girl) gets up and gives the sannensei a farewell speech. Then, the old student body president also gives a farewell speech. Now, I’ve heard a lot of graduation speeches in my day, even given one of my own, but the sannensei girl’s speech that day was awesome. Seriously one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard. I really wanted to stand up and applaud or cheer or something, but of course in Japan that’s not allowed. An emotional outburst like that is simply unacceptable. Except for crying, you are allowed to cry a whole lot. I decided to pass on that.
Then, the sannensei were supposed to sing a farewell song. Of course, it is one of those “thanks for the warm memories and goodbye” songs designed to – guess what? – make you cry. But before that, this particular sannensei class had a surprise. I’d seen them practicing this before the ceremony. They all turned, faced the crowd, and in a chorus speech, thanked their parents, teachers, and friends for everything over the past three years. Of course, they barely got through this without crying. This isn’t a regular part of the ceremony, and having been hit with such a pleasant surprise, the teachers and parents got to crying, too.
The sannensei sang their song, while crying, then left the gym. However, the school band, instead of playing them out with Pomp and Circumstance, played a current popular song, ironically titled “No More Cry.” This, of course, made them cry harder.
Afterwards was picture time, and I’m happy to report that by then, all the tears had become smiles. I came out for picture time as well – I really liked this particular sannensei class, and wanted to get some pictures of my own, as well as say goodbye properly. My friend Snuzzlebunnies found me quickly, and of course wanted a picture. I wanted a picture, too, because she is one of my favorite students. So we asked another student to take some with her camera and mine. First was hers. Like she always does, she hugged onto my arm tightly. I’ve gotten used to that by now, so no big deal. *Click*
For the second picture, with my camera, she let go of my arm. Before I can feel relieved though, she said, “Put your hand on my shoulder.” Well, that’s not so bad, right? I did so, in the same manner you’d pat a buddy on the back. This, however, wasn’t what she had in mind. “More,” she said as she took my hand and pulled it down across her chest.
Oh no. Not again.
My immediate first thought was, “Holy shit, those feel like boobs. Again.” Having learned my lesson from the first time, I didn’t grab or squeeze anything for confirmation, just basked in ignorance and smiled as the picture was taken. Later, when I checked the picture on my camera, sure enough, there I was, happily smiling as I’ve got my hand across her chest.
graduation_anon.jpg
I AM NOT A PEDOPHILE.
Side Note: I was later telling a female Japanese friend of mine about this and the Snuzzlebunnies incident. She laughed and said “But you were happy, right?” NO I WAS NOT HAPPY! I’m not a Japanese man. I don’t have lolicom, or “lolita complex,” the name given to the far too common Japanese male predilection for Jr. High and High School girls. I told you the men in this country weren’t right.
I realized that picture is the only one of us I have (just the two of us. I do have a group photo), so now for the rest of my life anytime someone looks at my pictures I’ll have to explain why I have my hand across a 15-year old girl’s chest and appear to be enjoying it.
And with that, the sannensei were gone. I may run into them from time to time, but no longer am I their teacher, no longer do we get to have class together, cultural exchange talks, English games, and all the rest. They were an awesome class, and I can honestly say I’m going to miss them.
I will remember you.

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46 Responses

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  1. The Great Cretaceous Bob said, on August 2, 2006 at 1:32 am

    You know, your articles are more varied than other Festering Ass authors’ articles, and they’re usually entertaining, but all of them always say to me that Japan sucks. I mean, lots of crying but no standing up and applauding? That’s crap.

  2. Marcus said, on August 2, 2006 at 1:39 am

    WHAT HAVE YOU DONE now some of your students are going to see that picture and totally know you are writing about them.

  3. emily said, on August 2, 2006 at 6:26 am

    Hilarious! Aside from that, you still look like a nice guy 🙂

  4. Ihmhi said, on August 2, 2006 at 8:21 am

    The first picture of you!
    You sort of remind me of Levar Burton. [/random]
    Come now, the picture does not look THAT bad. Maybe if your hand were a little to the left or right… but really, it does not.

  5. Mandi said, on August 2, 2006 at 10:31 am

    You’re not as tall as I imagined.
    Oh well, I love reading your stories. I failed a few semesters of Japanese in high school, so I love to laugh at how things really are.

  6. rien said, on August 2, 2006 at 10:53 am

    You bastard. I was fine the whole story, thinking, “silly emotional little Japanese people.” Until that last “I will remember you.” That got me.
    I’m calling it PMS.

  7. goats said, on August 2, 2006 at 11:16 am

    That is an amazing photo in terms of context! Hilarious! And of course, a tad disturbing…

  8. Blinky said, on August 2, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Makes me wonder why you blacked out her eyes in this version and not in the old version. These kids finally found ya?

  9. Anonymous said, on August 2, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    Dude, you edited the photo and crossed out her eyes. Why? I still have the original, if anyone want me to upload it just say so.

  10. Anonymous said, on August 2, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    Dude, you edited the photo and crossed out her eyes. Why? I still have the original, if anyone want me to upload it just say so.

  11. me said, on August 2, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    :O..it’s that picture..HMMM…the black square over her eyes seems pretty recent…

  12. Anonymous said, on August 2, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    You look like Chris Rock.

  13. Anonymous said, on August 2, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    You look like Chris Rock.

  14. Endevin said, on August 2, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    Hmm, I’m disappointed to see that you haven’t been getting any comments on your editorials for a while. It’s a shame really that people can read about experiences such as yours and not have anything to say in response.
    In any case, I’d like to comment on how your editorials such as this one, the ones meant to be more serious, are essential. These posts help to remind everyone that what they’re reading is real, too many of the light-hearted, funny posts, can start to make it feel a little fictional, and the serious posts offer a balance to keep everyone in check. I look forward to re-reading the rest as you get them back up, and of course whatever new ones you’ve got in store.

  15. slyguy said, on August 2, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    I’d hit it.

  16. Jayands said, on August 2, 2006 at 11:46 pm

    Awesome. Better the second time around. Oh, BTW, you are REALLY lucky you DIDN’T fall to lolicom — it’s EVERYWHERE! In that respect, I fear a little going to Japan, b/c while I don’t have lolicom NOW, two years is a long time of being barraged by it….

  17. Hikikomori NEET said, on August 3, 2006 at 9:52 am

    Touching. ;_;
    We didn’t have much crying in our graduation. But then again I was in a private all-boys school. XD
    It’s good that your working hard on your blog again. As I’ve said in a previous comment in one of your other entries – You are my blog-idol!!
    And I’m sure it’s not only me that misses your previous site.
    But in any case, more power to you and your works!!
    Hope you land that book deal soon.

  18. Laura said, on August 3, 2006 at 9:58 am

    Somehow, I thought you’d have a shaved head. Oh well.

  19. Anonymous said, on August 3, 2006 at 11:48 am

    For your face looks like if Tracy Morgan and Chris Tucker had a kid.

  20. Anonymous said, on August 3, 2006 at 11:48 am

    For your face looks like if Tracy Morgan and Chris Tucker had a kid.

  21. Whirlwind said, on August 4, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    Your site rules, and I believe you – you are not a pedophile. So sad the adventure had to come to an end.

  22. Curious said, on August 6, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    I notice this is the very first time you’ve posted your picture! Post more! I would love to see more of your students and yourself. You’re the best man, I can really see you enjoy Japan, and you have a heart of gold =d
    More pictures! Anything, really, it doesn’t matter.

  23. Johnny said, on August 7, 2006 at 8:31 am

    Hey, you are nice guy.

  24. amirahsyuhada said, on August 8, 2006 at 1:19 am

    mmm.. i know u not happy in this photo.lol

  25. amirahsyuhada said, on August 8, 2006 at 1:21 am

    i know u are a nice guy..and a cool teacher

  26. Jean-paul said, on August 8, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    Seems like you’ve been boobie trapped hu lol ?
    And no need to hope anymore, as each centimeter of smile on your face has added 10 thousands years of after life in kancho hell 😀 !

  27. Dead said, on August 12, 2006 at 2:32 am

    I AM NOT A PEDOPHILE.
    *dies laughing*

  28. Snuzzlebunnies FTW said, on August 12, 2006 at 7:13 am

    Snuzzlebunnies rocks! ❤

  29. securitysix said, on September 15, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    “Some person, in their infinite wisdom, chose Sarah MacLaughlin’s “I Will Remember You” as our graduation song.”
    I feel your pain here, man. I voted for Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, which won the popular vote, but then got vetoed by the school administration. Then I voted for “anything but ‘I Will Remember You'” and then we wound up with that anyway.

  30. Amani said, on September 21, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    I would gladly have commented on everything thus far, only, I can’t stop reading. Your blog is definitely the greatest blog I’ve come across on the web, and definitely the most relevant one to myself. Just learning about these preconcieved notions and taboos (and the opposite of that) makes me feel a lot less afraid of going to japan in the future, as a half-african.

  31. Boris said, on October 1, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    hey man, your blog really is funny!
    i hope being a teacher will not be so hard as I tought! after all, I hope I graduate at college and become a history teacher!
    lucky to you man

  32. griggs said, on October 19, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    I’m kind of curious, but just how tall are you? I’m 6′ 5″ personally, and I’m wondering just how much taller I’d be then your average japanese school kid.

  33. Jei said, on October 20, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    HAHAHAHA that is amazing!

  34. ChoQ said, on November 1, 2006 at 5:24 am

    Lolicon mite ka naaa? Tonikaku kakkoiii… Jeff Sensei

  35. Arto said, on December 10, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    I just love the variety of your stories. I am a real manly man but this is the second time I had tears in my eyes, even though the story was not in itself as emotional as moekos owl.
    Love the kancho stories, I have used mock kanchoes (assuming posture, going for it, but never finishing) for years, even that “one thousand years of pain” has been my trademark battlecry here in Finland ever since I ripped it off from Naruto.
    Love your stuff, keep it coming, crack your buttcheeks.

  36. Joe said, on December 30, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    I just wanna say i recently found your blog and its great! Every single entry makes me laugh. Keep up the good work!

  37. Thomas said, on January 4, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    No, offense dude, but your photo just looks like the embodiment of evil

  38. tom said, on March 21, 2007 at 8:14 am

    you look uncomfortable…

  39. justine said, on September 22, 2007 at 1:15 am

    well i on’t think that the people are so much ‘fucked up’ as they are just culturally different. we aren’t used to their cultural idiosyncrasies and they aren’t used to ours, but it isn’t necessarily wrong, just different.
    i have noticed the excessive crying though. i’ve watched one or two dramas over the internet, and i honestly couldn’t watch that many consecutively because depending on the one you see, its either really depressing or really, i don’t know excatly how to describe it but… stereotypical? i dunno, they do all try to achieve the ultimate ‘touching moment’. its actually kind of funny after watching a couple of them.

  40. Captain_Plantain said, on March 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    this had cemented you as my hero man,totally inequivocably,thanks to you i am even more certain now that if i don’t get the MEXT scholarship,im gonna get my bachelors in english and be a teacher in japan. as for your ex,what she did was rotten man,she should get stepped on by godzilla…after he stepped in gamera’s shit. another thing,you look cool, like a cross between Chris Tucker and one of my best friends we call Quincy.Ganbatte kudasai, anata wa sugoi yo

  41. Big_Al said, on April 21, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    “Holy shit, those feel like boobs. Again.”
    It’s hard for people to sell cars in this environment when the guy at the desk keeps giggling like a Japanese schoolgirl. Thanks a lot.

  42. Elizabeth said, on May 5, 2008 at 1:15 am

    Haha, no wonder the kids Kancho you, you look like a light hearted guy who can take a joke. Youre face isnt intimidating at all.

  43. Ian Suttle said, on May 18, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Great editorial, and I did find it entertaining….
    Wait…
    WTF!?
    What’s that to the right of your hand!?!

  44. Zello said, on July 30, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Love your stuff, keep them comin!

  45. HoLuH said, on August 4, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    cool the first pic ive seen of you..
    to be honest,i always imagined youd look like cedric the entertainer

  46. Yun said, on December 20, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    So, if this was posted in 2005, and she was a sannensei, that means Snuzzlebunnies must be, if not 18 then pretty darn close. Just sayin. *flees*


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