Everybody knows that Japan is an island nation. But we sometimes forget that, because the main Honshu island is so large.
Recently I flew to the Kozu island off Tokyo bay from the Chohu airport. A 35 minutes flight took me from the heat of metropolitan Tokyo to the cool breeze of the island. From island to island, literally. But we sometimes forget the former is one.
The Isu islands, the Kozu island being one of them, are united in proud isolation. Every two years they hold Parents and Teachers Association meeting. I was invited to give a talk. I always say that I cannot resist an island invitation, again forgetting that I live on one.
The island children grow up in a cozy atmosphere. There is only one class, and each one of them knows their classmates by heart. When they reach the age of 15, however, they have to say goodbye to the island, as there are no senior high schools. It is called the “15 years old farewell”. They have to live separately from the parents, and study on the mainland (which is again an island, but we forget that.)
These children say goodbye to the familiar and cozy in the spring of the 15th year. When I heard this story from an experienced educator, my heart felt a sweet pain. Maybe that is the destiny of all Japanese people, as we jump into globalization. We should not forget about the 15 years old farewells.
Life on an island. The Kozu kids displaying their festive dance.