Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute Graduation Ceremony 2023

On March 22, 2024, Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute held its graduation ceremony. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony had been conducted online or within the school for a while, but this year, it was finally held at an external venue for the first time in five years. This year’s grand ceremony took place at the luxurious Chinzanso Hotel in Tokyo, much to the delight of both teachers and students.

A total of 290 students attended, many of whom had arrived in Japan and enrolled in 2022, when border control measures were relaxed, making it relatively easier to enter the country. It was a relief to see these students finally graduate, although it was also somewhat bittersweet. For the students who struggled to enter Japan for over two years and for those involved in Japanese language education, there was a renewed appreciation for the “normal” experience of studying abroad that was once taken for granted.

Graduates, teachers, and guests gradually filled the seats. Students wore formal suits, traditional attire from their home countries, and some international students even wore Japanese hakama, providing a delightful glimpse into Japan’s cultural heritage.

Many students were unfamiliar with Japanese ceremony customs, so a practice session for standing up together with their teachers was held. As the ceremony began, teachers called each student’s name by class, and it was impressive to see the international students respond cheerfully with a loud “Yes.” Subsequently, perfect attendance awards were given to students who had not missed a single day for one, one and a half, or two years. The student representative delivered a heartfelt thank-you speech. The ceremony concluded with speeches from the principal and distinguished guests, including Akie Abe, wife of the former Prime Minister, and Seiko Sasaki, former Commissioner of the Immigration Services Agency.

The sight of students holding their certificates and taking commemorative photos with their teachers in Chinzanso’s beautiful Japanese garden was heartwarming.

And then, the long-awaited party began. The toast was led by voice actress Toshiko Sawada, known for her narration in “Heidi, Girl of the Alps” and as Maleficent in Disney. Wearing Maleficent’s crown, Sawada-sensei cheerfully called out “Cheers!” with the students. The buffet-style meal allowed everyone to enjoy a final luxurious feast of sushi, steak, and more.

During the lively conversations, students performed, singing and dancing, adding to the festive atmosphere. The event ended with the traditional staff dance video, featuring YOASOBI’s “Idol” this year, much to the students’ delight.

As students left the venue, many lined up for commemorative photos with the principal, creating a scene reminiscent of Tokyo Disneyland with Mickey Mouse. The principal was quite the popular figure!

Congratulations to all the international students on your graduation! We will continue to support you, so please come visit us anytime!