In the comments of my post about Culture Day I promised pictures of K's niece, Asami, on Coming of Age Day which occurs on the second Monday in January for those turning twenty that year. Twenty is the age of majority in Japan and local governments put on a ceremony for those who are becoming adults, sort of like a graduation.
At this time, girls may inherit (or be gifted new) a special kimono called "furisode". Of course, some people will rent a kimono for a special occasion like this (more commonly for a wedding). Furisode have very long sleeves and are a way of announcing that the young woman is available for marriage. She will wear it at special occassions. Should she marry, she will likely be given a new kimono by the groom, with shorter sleeves that indicate her marital status, which she will keep through adult life.
Asami was given a new kimono which she, her mother, and grandmother, chose. Such kimono are not inexpensive (thousands of dollars in US terms). Kimono are layered and have many pieces to wrap and tie into place, so it requires knowledgable help to get dressed in one. The usual practice is to visit a hair salon which will do the woman's hair as well as dress her, so just wearing one involves time and expense.
Sunday, Asami had her portrait taken at a studio in her new kimono for her Coming of Age celebration. Afterward she visited Kashima Jingu, the major Shinto shrine here, where we met up with her. Happily, the weather cooperated and we had a sunny day for taking pictures. We met up at the entrance while her mom was taking pics.
From the gate we went to the Hondo, or main hall, and gave offerings and prayers. Asami posed for more pics, this time of the back of her kimono and with her Aunt K. Asami is studying to be a nurse at a college a couple of hours away, so was just home for the weekend. My oldest daughter (I have two terrific daughters if you don't know), Emily, is a registered nurse, so I think it is great that Asami aspires to the same noble profession.
Ah well, smiles or no, Asami was beautiful in her new kimono. But I promise to get an unmistakable smile from her when I take her picture again next month.