the new school year started yesterday. the bus came at the 'old' time (the school hours are changing this year) and came back at the same time. hiro got his new badge. his class is being split in two, i guess a lot of students joined the second year class. we got a load of papers and found out his new group name. last year he was in 'kiku', which means chrysanthemum. the other two groups were 'ume' (japanese 'plum') and 'sakura' (cherry blossom, in case you forgot...) his badge last year was orange, ume was green and sakura was pink (of course!) but yesterday he came home with a yellow badge and his new group name is 'kibou', which means hope. how lovely.

this morning we took hiro to the yochien because they had the opening ceremony. even though he started last november, we were 'invited' to come. only the new students came today, which is actually kind of a relief because all those people is so...overwhelming for students. i, of course, stood out like a sore thumb because i don't have ANY formal wear and didn't realize i'd actually have to be a part of the ceremony. each child held his or her mommy's hand and did a little parade over the stage and to the chairs. *sigh* and i was wearing a denim skirt and a SWEATSHIRT! oh, the horror! LOL

there were fourteen first year students and SEVENTEEN new second year students! only the 'nenchu' (second years) are divided into two classes. so, the new group names are: first year, 'ai', which means 'love' (pink badge, i think); second year (two groups) are 'kibou', as i said before (yellow badge) and 'yuuki', which means 'bold', light blue badges and then the third years are 'yume' which means 'dream' and they have red badges. whew! the school is a bit of a huggy-feely type school, where they seem to emphasize the feelings of the children. i think. i tend to space out when confronted with a lot of japanese. all i really care about is hiro has the same teacher as he had last year. she's really sweet and hiro loves her a lot!

after the ceremony we went back to the 'classroom' (the school has an open floor plan) and did a craft together--a kind of hand print in clay. i suppose we can compare his hand at the end of the school year. then there was a 'sandwhich party' for everyone, although each family received eight slices of bread and two slices of ham. even though there was potato salad (on a sandwhich?? i guess i haven't been in japan too long...) and a little bit of strawberry jam, it wasn't quite enough for our family. not to worry, though, because we went to mr. donut afterward and had some ramen and donuts (ok, maybe i've been in japan long enough...)

although it was a rather stressful day (hiro is still so shy!!) we had some fun!

(my apologies for the abuse of the single apostrophe. and sorry, no pictures!!)