June 2010

Note: Fukuzawa Elementary School is one of two schools in Kawamata which were closed down due to declining enrollment in March of 2008.

Not long ago, I was driving around Kawamata and I found myself near Fukuzawa Elementary School. The cherry blossoms were in bloom, and it reminded me of something a student of mine told me. She was once a student at Fukuzawa Elementary school, and apparently the school song starts with a line about the scent of blossoms in Fukuzawa. She said that there are beautiful cherry trees around the school, and that song always reminds her of the way they bloom every spring.

I drove up to the school and spend a few minutes walking around it. It had been more than two years since the last time I visited Fukuzawa Elementary School, and even though the sun was shining, the day was warm, and beautiful cherry blossoms were all around me, I couldn't help but feel a little sad.

September 6, 2007: I had been in Japan for one month. The school term had started a few days earlier, and now it was time for my first ever elementary school visit. The school was Fukuzawa Elementary School. I still have the lesson schedule for that day. I remember that I was nervous at first, but I soon began to have fun. The school was small and friendly, and the students were all cheerful and enthusiastic. After that day, I knew that I was going to be OK.

Four more times I went to teach at Fukuzawa Elementary School. I also spent part of one day helping the students and teachers harvest rice from a nearby field. My last visit was on February 5, 2008. Fukuzawa Elementary School was closed down forever soon after that.

It's strange that even though I went there only a few times, I have such good memories of that place. I wonder how the students who spent all those years at Fukuzawa Elementary School must feel? When they see the cherry blossoms in the spring, do they close their eyes and remember their old school song?

I'm sad to say that I never had a chance to learn that song. I wonder if I ever will?

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