Monday, August 29, 2011

The Long Road Back to School

After bidding fond farewell to the last day of summer vacation and crying themselves to sleep last night, public school kids in Temple Valley were back on the road to school bright and early this morning. The photo above, taken in April of 2005 (it's still way too hot and muggy to be wearing jackets here at this time of year), comes from our files. A fifth grader gives a struggling first grader a hand with his back pack on the first day of school. Luckily she just has to carry her sub-bag and is free to help him bear the new burden. 

At the beginning and end of the week grade school kids in Japan are 
Heiwa elementary school 平和小学校 _16
Photo of school bags
 by ajari via Fickr
usually weighted down with a surprising amount of gear that typically includes a sturdy leather backpack known as a randoseru, a sub-bag like the one seen here for who knows what (maybe oversize items that don't fit within the skimpy parameters of the randoseru), a bag containing their "indoor sneakers" (uwabaki) that they change into at the school building's foyer before setting foot in the hallways, an umbrella if it looks like there's a chance of rain and maybe a big heavy thermos containing a cool drink to wet their parched lips if it's especially hot and the school administration is liberal enough to allow such a luxury as cold water.*

*My sons' elementary school allows the students to bring tea or water. Actually every public school I've been in (and  I've been in more than a few) has plenty of cold water. They don't have any hot water (or warm water either) but they do have cold water, especially in winter when they have really really cold water.

Related news: Read about what could very well be this year's "it bag" in Japan (hint: it's a lot like the one pictured above) here.

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