Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Okay, so why the all-of-the-sudden spate of blog updates from a usually week or 2 behind, watashi? Because of the randomness that was today and the buzz that is still pulsating through my body.

Today we had our school's Graduation Ceremony. It was sad to see off the third years, especially the ones I've gotten to know through my OC classes and my 3rd year ESS girl. Even though at times I dreaded the class, they are all good kids and I wish them the very best and hope they have bright, happy futures.

All the teachers were nicely suited up. New haircuts, pearl necklaces, crisp suit jackets straight from the hanger - everyone looked great. Principal-sensei wears his black jacket with tails and pin striped pants. He looks as if he's going to conduct an orchestra. He looks very formal except that he's wearing bright white sneakers. tee hee hee. In the gym we have to change shoes and wear 'non-outside' shoes.

Anyways so we have the big ceremony in the gym as usual. All the 3rd year students (sitting in the front) and 2nd year students are present with only a few 1st year student representatives. Parents are at the back, local dignitaries and PTA reps are to one side and teachers are on the other side.

It's the usual dig. Principal speaks, sing the Japanese anthem, PTA chairman speaks, sing the school song, student reps speak - ofcourse this is all in Japanese so I drift off into a hot beach related daydream. Soon I snap back out of it and scope out all the camera people, reporters, film crew and such. I don't know if it's like that with other high schools or perhaps just our school since we have that special, only-one-in-Japan Environment and Disaster Mitigation Programme.

I spy one guy standing behind me. He's wearing faded jeans, white collared shirt and a nice black jacket. His hair is slightly coloured, longish and quite stylish - spiked but not too spiked. No way is he a film crew guy or a journo. Camerman perhaps? But where is his camera?

Just as I'm pondering these thoughts, Head of logistics-sensei gets up and says something and the side door of the gym (where we are sitting) slides open and some people walk in. Very distracting entrance for a typical regimented Japanese high school graduation ceremony, I reckon. But then it seems like it's all part of the programme. I don't remember this happening last year.

Anyways, thoughts race through my mind as I wonder who these people are. Some are quite big, dressed in black, have security ear pieces hooked behind their ears - what the? One dude has his sunglasses on and is wearing a long, black trench coat - very matrix. Could it be some important person? Famous, perhaps?

My eyes are drawn to the movement on the stage and out of nowhere two huge ass speakers are wheeled out to the front of the stage (do we even own these?!), the piano is pushed back, some chairs and microphones are placed in front and the mysterious huge bonsai plant that appears at ever formal ceremony is placed at the back (I think it's actually fake because it looks exactly the same - immaculate every time. But I've never seen it up close before).

The teachers sitting around me look just as confused with eyes wide open and puzzled expressions painted on their faces. Suddenly there are gasps of "Heiii?!?!", screams from the female students and I can feel excitement stirring around the room.

*What the hell is going on?*
I lean in to Part-time-young-maths-sensei and ask,
Dare? Dare? (Who? Who?)
He replies in awe and disbelief, "GACKT?!"
Honma? Hontoni?

I've heard of the name before but I know nothing about this dude. Just that he's some famous Japanese singer. Pronounced 'ga-ku-to' and not the sound you make as if you were choking or hacking something up (learn from my mistakes, kids - that's what I'm here for). With shrieks and tears from the female students and the frenzy the reporters, film crews and camera people are in, I'm assuming he's pretty big a star. Luckily I carry my camera everywhere so I manage to get some shots too. *Yay for still being a tourist!*

I don't even know this guy and haven't heard any of his songs, but I guess with all the camera flashes going off and the vibe I'm picking up in the gym, I get carried away with the moment too. Gackt gets up on stage and starts speaking (damn you, speak English! haha). This is the translation I got afterwards.

Apparently 2 years ago, one of the graduating 3rd year boys (then a 1st year) from the environmental programme emailed Gackt and told him about the course and what they do. That year the intake of new students for the programme was really low with only 30 students. The boy was saying how important this programme was and that he hoped more students would be interested in it so that the special programme could continue. Apparently Gackt reads all his fanmail and replies to them, and he is interested in 'environmental' things. He wrote back to the student and since then the boy kept writing to him and kept saying, 'Please come to our school and see it for yourself, please come to our graduations ceremony..yadda yadda..' Anyways Gackt said that 3 days before the graduation ceremony, he decided to come and he also wrote a song especially for the graduating students. His people got in contact with Head-of-logistics-sensei and Principal-sensei and it was all organised. It was all hush hush and only 4 teachers knew about it.

After he explained all this, he got the graduating student to stand up and everybody cheered. It was the stuff dreams are made of. Then two guitar guys started playing and Gackt sang this song that he wrote especially for them. I didn't understand much, except the word 'yume' (dream) but it was freakin' awesome. He has a really good voice and the fact that he arranged to come to a public high school and made my students so deliriously happy on their graduation day, really got to me and even brought a (singular) tear to my eye. Some female students were sobbing into their hand towels and I looked over and one of the younger female teachers (perhaps a big fan?) was crying too.

After singing he spoke some more, shook Principal-sensei's hand and then was escorted out the side door as fast as he appeared, followed by his groupies and that guy in the jeans, white collared shirt and black jacket - I knew it! He looked more like a manager-type.

I could see the poor 1st year students outside, not part of the ceremony, leaning dangerously outside the 3rd floor classroom windows trying to take photos with their keitais.

In true star status, before he walked out the door, Gackt turned to the students, smiled (and melted many hearts I'm sure) and waved goodbye. He was so close and I had the perfect money shot lined up but my camera froze - I guess it got starstruck too. I was speechless. My first real Japanese celebrity sighting. I had no idea who he was (except for the name and that he wears make up and has the whole David Bowie feminine look going sometimes) but I was swept up in it all like a 16 year old female fan.

Gackt - You've got my respect for making my kids so happy and giving them such a memorable graduation. Yeah sure, it could have been just a great publicity stunt to attract lots of positive media attention but who cares, the joy and delight I could see on my students' faces was priceless. Much respect. You get a high-five and extra bonus participation points from Chris-sensei.


At 11:45 pm, Anonymous Another Christine said...

WOW WOW WOW!! U saw Gackt up close and personal!!! WOW!!! That's awesome!!!

At 1:09 am, Blogger Nami said...

Thanks to your education on this blog, I could proudly raise my hand and say "Yes, I know who Gackt" is to my 日本語先生。

At 11:21 am, Blogger Christine said...

another christine - Yeah, it was quite a random but great experience. Wish I knew more about him beforehand though, I'm sure I would have been a whole heap more excited.

nami - You get to learn about Gackt in your Nihongo classes? That's way cooler than mine. Glad my posts are educational and contributing to your education - I try ;P

At 9:17 pm, Anonymous Lainey said...

Gackt is a HUGE, HUGE famously mad star in Japan. Wow. I can't believe it. That's pretty amazing!!!

At 11:13 pm, Blogger Noreen Birkhahn said...

Gackt is such a pretty boy-man.

At 6:44 pm, Anonymous ET said...

Hi there,
I chance upon your blog and have been reading it. Had no courage to actually say hi but guess 'Gackt' made me do it. He's really cool - minus the make-up.

I've always been interested in Japan and hope to get a chance to work there. Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's been great reading your blog.

At 3:09 pm, Blogger Christine said...

nb - I saw a feature on him in some mag and yeah, he had way too much makeup on. But he still gets my respect.

et - Thanks for reading! It's always nice to get a comment from people who drop by. Hope you do get to visit Japan someday.


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