I taught English in the mountains of Fukushima Prefecture for three years and over that time I got to see a full set of students cycle through each grade level.

During one graduation ceremony, the usual series of boring speeches was interrupted by an energetic member of the graduating class. At Japanese schools, a representative of the second-year class gives a 送辞 (sōji, farewell address) to send off their graduating 先輩 (senpai, seniors), and then a member of the graduating class gives the 答辞 (tōji, formal reply).

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.