Spring is the time for new beginnings in Japan, especially for students, many of whom are entering the workforce or new schools for the first time. In the case of schools, that makes this the season for large-scale entrance ceremonies all over Japan, but the lingering pandemic continues to make this hallowed tradition of huge gatherings problematic.

As luck would have it, the metaverse has also arrived to address the needs of institutions to welcome the hundreds and thousands of new enrollees while keeping them safe. It’s something that’s already been going on, with reports of academic milestones being held in the arguable metaverse of Minecraft, but now an official platform has been made solely for hosting an entrance ceremony.

On 8 April, 29 vocational schools operated by the NSG College League in Niigata Prefecture held their first Metaverse Entrance Ceremony for about 3,800 new students. The event took place on a virtual intersection with a sound stage set up for speeches.

The ceremony kicked off with the comedic stylings of Satoshi Mukai, hot off his very successful run in the hit Netflix show Last One Standing. After the crowd was warmed up, Niigata Business College Principal Toshihiko Watanabe greeted the students on behalf of all 29 principals in the group of schools.

▼ Satoshi Mukai in avatar form

The ceremony was interspersed with video messages, such as one by student rep Harukazu Okiyama of the Sado Traditional Culture and Environmental Welfare School in Sado City. Okiyama advised the newcomers to embrace technology to help build stronger connections with fellow students.

In the latter half of the event, the other members of Mukai’s manzai unit Panther, Ryotaro Kan and Takahiro Ogata, also made an appearance and everyone was allowed to freely mingle in the virtual space via robot avatars.

It could be argued that entrance ceremonies are more important to parents than students themselves, so naturally they were allowed to spectate via a YouTube livestream of the ceremony. According to NSG, some 1,200 guests logged on to watch.

So, it’s fair to say that this metaverse ceremony was a rousing success. Even though the pandemic appears to be winding down, other benefits to this format can be found from getting high-level talent to perform more easily to letting students attend from the comfort of their own bedrooms and pajamas while glancing at their Instagram feeds during the boring parts with impunity. It’s a win-win.

Source, images: PR Times
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