Bebe Taian: Seijin no Hi: Coming of Age Day

January 14, 2013

Seijin no Hi: Coming of Age Day

Today (or rather, earlier tonight by our time) is Seijin no Hi, a bright day celebrating people who 20 years old. They are now considered to be adults, and have the privileges of full members of society!

Seijin no Hi is one of the rare occasions when you can see Japanese men wearing traditional (if not modern updated) kimono, and girls get dressed up for one of the biggest days in their social lives. Furisode should be over the top! Accessories, accessories, accessories! Big hair! Fresh manicures! And of course, the fur shawl, regardless of how hot it is. Actually, today is really perfect for the weight of ofurisode and all of the layers involved: it's snowing in Tokyo! <3

Most women rent their ofurisode, I think, or have them passed down from other family members. Still, as always, there is some pressure to buy the most up-to-date, new fashions. Just as you wouldn't want to wear your mothers' prom dress from the 80s, Japanese women probably don't want to wear their mother's Seijin no Hi outfit. Secondhand kimono shops can sometimes be great places to find castoffs in mint condition, but a woman would have to be creative to make them look modern and fashionable. It can be done!

Rental services have a mix of 'old' and 'new' kimono, but vintage items I think are probably sold off to elsewhere. The great thing about kimono rental places is that the staff is often trained to fully dress a person and do their hair or provide accessories. There is even a place that can take your mother's (or other person's) vintage furisode and put a modern twist on it to update the style.

But of course, this year is marked by some sadness, too.

From Asahi Shinbun:

New adults hold portraits of three tsunami victims at the Coming-of-Age Day ceremony held on Jan. 13 in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. In the portraits, from left: Shoko Kanno, Marin Ojima, Asami Niinuma. (Shingo Kuzutani)
Coming-of-Age Ceremony Also Honors Friends Who Died in Tsunami

RIKUZENTAKATA, Iwate Prefecture--Coming-of-Age Day events, for young people who have turned or will turn 20 years old by the end of March, were scheduled throughout Japan on Jan. 14. But at the ceremony here on Jan. 13, participants also remembered the friends they had lost in the 2011 tsunami.
With some of them holding portraits of those killed in the disaster, "new adults" offered a moment of silence for the 11 who were unable to commemorate this important day. This year, 266 received invitations for the ceremony, in Rikuzentakata, but some could not attend.

Following the ceremony, the new adults were grouped by the junior high school they graduated from and posed for the camera.

In the photograph of the Takata Daiichi junior high school graduates, three of the participants held portraits of victims on their laps.

Minami Shimamura, a 20-year-old junior college student in Chiba Prefecture, remembered her deceased friend Shoko Kanno. They had both belonged to the soft tennis club.

"I have to live a decent life so that I do not disappoint her," Shimamura said.

"I wanted to attend the ceremony with them," said Riho Sugawara, a graduate of the same school, with tears in her eyes.

On the subject of the Tohoku disaster:
Many Americans forget that there are Japanese still displaced from homes, who cannot go back to affected areas, and who do not have the financial support necessary to rebuild their lives. Also affected, perhaps more so, are the animals and pets of those who lost everything. Many Japanese shelters do not accept pets, and there is no place to put them. It is a difficult situation, and one that causes the needless excruciating deaths of thousands of animals in emergency situations, emotional trouble and even the exacerbation of mental illnesses in humans, and in some cases, death from the added stress of guilt and being forced to abandon someone you love. Please consider donating to causes that endeavor to help those least capable of controlling their destiny during and after disasters: the disabled, the elderly, children, and animals. Research them well, as some charities frequently overspend, or give absurd amounts of money to their CEOs while spending less on actual charity work. The local Japanese Consulate has stated that they use the Japanese Red Cross currently. Japanese Red Cross is large, well-known, and reliable.

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