In most of Japan’s elementary and secondary schools as well as universities and colleges, the school year begins in April and concludes the following March. Thus, many educational institutions have their sotsugyo-shiki (graduation ceremony) in March. Sotsugyo-shiki is a solemn ceremony featuring conferment of diplomas, a congratulatory speech from the principal, and greetings from representatives of the graduating students. Many graduating students attend the ceremony in formal clothes, such as their school uniforms and suits, while many female university students wear haori and hakama, traditional Japanese formal wear, for this special occasion. Sotsygyo-shiki, which marks a beginning of a new stage of life for the graduating students, is also an occasion for saying farewell to friends. At secondary school ceremonies, many students ask their favorite graduating students of the opposite sex for their school bags or buttons off their school uniforms. A notable practice among girls is to ask for the second button from the top off the school uniform worn by a male graduating student of their choice. Since this button is near the male student’s heart it is believed to enable a girl to win the boy’s heart as well.
Updated: 27 February, 2019