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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Bringing Japanese Culture to Bellingham: Coming of age

The age to be considered as an adult is very important, especially for young adults in every country.

In Japan, there is a ceremony, called the coming-of-age ceremony or “Seijinnshiki,” which cerebrates new adults, who turn 20 or will be turning 20 during the next school year. This allows them to become a part of the Japanese society as an adult properly. It’s like a graduation ceremony from the childhood and entering in the adulthood.

Since I was in the U.S. during the year when I turned 20, I personally didn’t get to participate in the ceremony, even though I spent for the most part of my childhood in Japan.

Some of my friends in Japan were willing to tell me what the ceremony was like for them.

On the day of ceremony, typically in early January, the new adults all gather for the ceremony organized by region or city in the town where they went to elementary school or middle school. Some people go out of their hometown for high school.

The age of 20 is enormously special for Japanese people because turning 20 means being legal in every aspect. Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and the right to vote become legal once you turn 20.

At the ceremony, there are usually a couple of guest speakers including a city mayor and they celebrate young adults jumping into Japanese society while emphasizing how important it is to be aware of becoming adults.


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All the guys are dressed up with either a formal suit or a hakama, the traditional Japanese attire for men. Some of my friends from high school chose one of the traditional hakama because they have never worn one before, and also it might be the last time to do so in their life.



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Furisode or wafuku

Girls typically wear furisode or wafuku at the ceremony. Some people wear the ones inherited from their mom because compared to the male attire, furisode is quite expensive, and it might cost more than $10,000 to purchase the set.

Nowadays, the meaning of this ceremony has become an opportunity to simply meet old friends from childhood rather than to follow the tradition and realize they are becoming an adult.

It is amazing that people in Japan have been following such an old tradition since the end of World War II. We shouldn’t forget the original meaning of the tradition; otherwise it is no longer a tradition.

Even though the meaning of the ceremony has been changed thorough years, it is still one of the most important traditions for Japanese people.

I hope those transitioning to adulthood in the future will remember the traditions while enjoying the moment with old friends.


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