Grape held its essay contest grape Award 2020 this year from May to August.

Contestants could write about one of two themes; heart-stirring or heart-stirring customer service.

Today we’ll introduce one candidate’s essay titled “Elementary Students Giving Up Their Seats.”

On the congested, morning rush-hour trains, everyone wants to sit. I’m also commuting and when I have a lot of bags, I honestly want to sit too.

However, even when I sit down, I give up my seat to the elderly or pregnant women. Of course there is priority seating, but since everyone sits there anyway, it doesn’t actually serve its function.

The other day, a likely hungover youngster was lying down, occupying a wide area. What a shame. It’s rare these days to come across someone who will give up their seat.

That day the train’s seats were full and people were holding onto the hand straps. There was an elementary schoolgirl who had been sitting. When an elderly man got on the bus, she got up and said to him, “Here, have this seat.”

The man seemed surprised the girl had called out to him, but still steady on his legs, he politely declined.

He may not have expected an elementary school student to give up her seat. Having been turned down, she smiled and nodded politely. Before long, the old man got off the bus.

After a while, a woman in her fifties got on the bus, carrying a lot of bags.

Thereupon the schoolgirl once again offered her seat and called out, “Here, have this seat.”

The woman was also surprised by the girl’s offer, but still young and in good health, tactfully declined.

Why was this girl so eager to give up her seat? It was something curious and I couldn’t forget about it.

Soon my stop came and I got off the train. Something struck a chord in me about what I’d seen that day.

And then a while after that I saw the same elementary schoolgirl on a crowded train.

This time there were a group of students wearing the same uniform. The girl from before was seated in the middle. There were some boys too, probably all from the same school.

At one station, an old man with a cane got on the train.

The girl closest to the door immediately stood up and said, “Here, have this seat,” taking his hand and made him sit down. The man expressed his thanks as he sat down. He seemed really happy to be able to sit down.

At the next station, a woman in her sixties with her hands full got on from a different door.

At which point the schoolboy closest to the door quickly got to his feet, took the woman by the hand, and offered her his seat. She also politely thanked him and sat down.

I finally understood. Giving up one’s seat was being taught at their school. Either manners were well-taught or the students were listening obediently, either way it was something splendid. I don’t know which elementary school they were from, but I thought it was quite marvelous education.

I commute on a pretty early train. When I get on the elementary students are already sitting there, so they must either get on at the first station or somewhere near there.

But they’re headed to school at such an early hour. It must be tough for both the students and their parents.

However, they’re never sleeping on the train, they sit with good posture, and they aren’t noisy. Some of them are even reading books. And they’re always quick to offer their seat to anyone who needs it.

On the other hand, young people and adults carelessly fall asleep, leaning on those next to them, or absorbed in their games and making all kinds of noises.

These elementary school students are behaving properly and reading, whereas the adults are rude and playing games.

The way these children behave on the trains should serve as a model, and even adults should follow their example I thought.

To be shown something so extraordinary from these schoolchildren really soothed my mind.

grape Award 2020 Essay Contest

2020 marks the 4th year of grape’s essay contest.

The judges for this year’s contest are manga artist Hidekichi Matsumoto, known for her popular series 犬と猫とどっちも飼ってると毎日たのしい (Every Day is Fun Raising Both a Cat and Dog). We sometimes feature English translations of her manga strips. Here’s the latest one.

The panel also features Jupiter’s Yumi Yoshimoto, a lyricist and essayist, and Akira Shiga, author of the widely popular film adaptation of Stolen Identity.

We hope you enjoyed today’s essay, and be sure to look forward to when this year’s winner is announced.

By - Mujo.