When Shuhei Kashiwara checked in on his 10-year-old son, Iyori while he was playing Minecraft on his computer recently, the Japanese dad saw a touching site on the screen.
Iyori, whose school has been closed for a month due to coronavirus, had built a graduation ceremony with his friends in the game, which allows users to channel their own creativity by building a pixelated world from blocks.
In Japan, kids attend school in a three-term system, meaning the school year runs from April through March. Iyori was slated to graduate from fourth grade this month, and begin fifth grade in April. With the school closure, Kashiwara says his son had been feeling a bit sad about not seeing his friends and missing out on the end of his school year.
"I give studying assignments, but my son is delighted to spend more time on the game," Kashiwara told TODAY Parents in a Twitter message. "It doesn't seem boring because he and his online game friends are playing every day ... every day their laughter continues."
Kashiwara, who lives in Hakuba, a village in the Japanese Alps just outside Nagano, said he stumbled upon the Minecraft graduation ceremony on March 14. In the game, the kids had created a gymnasium where the promotion exercises would be held, as well as a large banner that read "summer" that hung above the students who were being promoted.
"I was impressed that it was built with such details from the entrance to the exterior," said Kashiwara.
Kashiwara shared photos of the Minecraft graduation on Twitter, writing, "Elementary school students gathered and started their own graduation ceremony."
In the thread, Kashiwara, who runs a ryokan — a traditional Japanese inn similar to an American bed and breakfast — with his family, shared a sweet video of his son, who smiles, laughs and speaks to his dad about his creation in Japanese.
Kashiwara said his son is saying, "It's funny, is it not?" in the video clip, as he gives his dad the grand tour.
Kashiwara said that throughout the world, he sees the enormity of the effects of coronavirus. He shared his son's project because he knew other parents would relate, no matter where they live.
"In the world of coronavirus, children have completed their tasks in their own way," said Kashiwara, adding that his son has been "delighted" to see congratulations from around the world every day for his creation. "When my son was 3 years old, he asked me for Minecraft. I did not understand the fun of Minecraft, but this time I was surprised at how he used it beyond imagination."