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Japanese Culture and Traditions: April

 

The topic for April is the 

New School Term and Cherry Blossom Viewing Season

 

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The Japanese academic year coincides with the Japanese fiscal year. April through March of the following year constitutes one year which is divided into three semesters; April to July, September to December and January to March. In 1900, children were obliged to begin the four years of compulsory education from age six. In that year the percentage of children attending school was ninety percent. In 1907, when compulsory education was increased to six years, the percentage of children receiving compulsory education was about ninety-nine percent. In 1947 the educational system was completely revised, and compulsory education was extended to nine years (6 years elementary school and three years junior high school). The educational system of Japan is comprised fundamentally of six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of senior high school, and four years of university. The system was set up under the direction of the U.S. Occupation forces after World War II. With the numbers of college entrants increasing, the financial burden on parents for educational expenses has become much greater. Entrance examinations, competition for good jobs, and the insistence on educational background cause a lot of stress.

April is also the season to enjoy cherry blossom viewing. People go out on a picnic and enjoy singing and dancing while drinking sake or eating in the open air under the full blooming cherry blossoms to celebrate the arrival of spring. This is what we call "Hana-mi" (Flower viewing).

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The cherry blossom (sakura) is the national flower of Japan and is the favorite of most Japanese. If you would like to feel that atmosphere, please come and join the Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura Matsuri) at Seattle Center House in Seattle, Washington. We are sorry you have missed the 2014 Sakura Matsuri. Please come and have fun with us in 2015. For further information about upcoming performances, visit Kabuki Academy Performances.