Sunday, October 31, 2010

15 years old farewell

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.


Pupa said...

That's an interesting viewpoint !

Perhaps continents themselves must be islands from the point of view that they are surrounded by waters. But we forger that.
And the earth itself is one of islands that float in the ocean called the universe. But we forget that,too.

I experienced 18 years old farewell as there are no universities in my island.
May the 15 year-old boys and girls in Kozu flourish and remember their original source !

Gel said...

hi there, i didn't know that you have a blog, and that you've been blogging since 2004! Wow! that's long, not to mention that you're still keeping this blog active and updated. good job.

i used to watch your show on NHK World (I'm not from Japan) but sadly our cable operator no longer shows "NHK World", just "NHK", meaning, the current NHK channel is in the Japanese language (no English translations), so I no longer understand the things people are saying.

I read some of your posts, and it's interesting that you've mentioned about the problems you're seeing in your home country, like politics, for example. It's interesting for me, because, as an outsider, Japan is the coolest country in the world, in terms of technology, economy, location on Earth, pop culture, etc. I guess, each country has its own problems.

That's it. Just dropping by, best of luck, and good job in maintaining this blog. Keep posting.

yuzu said...

I left my home in Osaka when I was 15 years old. Because I went to hight school and stayed at dormitory in Chiba prefecture. Then I went to England when I was 16 years old for 2 months.
I thought that it was good timing to leave my home.
Of course I and my family are always good relationship.

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

"They have to live separately from the parents"!? How bitter the farewell is!

I hope all of you are warmly welcomed in the world of the future.

maruko247 said...

Indeed, may the 15-year-olds from the island go off into the world and find their calling!

My farewell came at 17, when I left Japan to go to university in the States. I was homesick like you wouldn't believe (for the first couple of months anyway), but it seemed a necessary rite of passage into adulthood.

hiroko said...

Now I'm trying to remember what I was like when I was 15. I didn't like my father because his legs were hairy. (It sounds ridiculous but really was it true. 15 year old girls are like that in "good" way.)

One day, I said something terrible to him and he hit me in the face. I was a teenager going through her rebellious phase. What I said was so terrible that I knew I deserved that even at that time.

I now think what if I had to go away from home to go to high school at the age of 15. That would have been rather happier for me to be away from someone special so that I could have learned something very very important. The bond.

I left my home to go to college in West Virginia when I was 19. I even now appreciate that my mother had let me do that, And I grew. I could learn how precious my family was by not being around one.

Sometimes or always, the most important things come along with something unexpected.