Preview: Seijin Shiki (Coming of Age Day)

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Sunday at Kashima Jingu Shrine

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.

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Walking toward the gate with her grandmother, mom, and Aunt K

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At the gate. Someone get this girl to smile.

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.

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My personal favorite

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Hello...yes, I'm taking a picture..over here...

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Kimono were obviously not designed for jogging.

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With "Uncle" Pandabonium - is that a hint of a smile?

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.


Martin F said...

Thanks for the photos and best wishes to her! That is a truly lovely kimono.

YD said...

Asami is pretty! So slim, so tall. But she could have smiled more. ;-P

With that dagger-eyed look, it's somehow easier to imagine her in a black leather coat with Matrix sunglasses, than in a kimono. =_=!!!

We don't have coming-of-age ceremony here. I want pretty clothes...

Anonymous said...

Magnificent pictures. Magnificent family.

Pandabonium said...

Thanks Martin and Hill Country Gal.

YD - that's too funny.

FH2o said...

I wouldn't be smiling as it would be hard to hide the big grin on my face!

The Moody Minstrel said...

Yes, definitely a woman dressed for a 21st century Coming of Age Day: a kimono that's pretty as a picture, lots of ornaments and accessories, new hairdo...and, of course, the hair has just gotta be orange...

I think the last time I saw a woman dressed for Coming of Age Day who actually had black hair was in 1993.

In fact, one of the easiest ways to distinguish girls that have recently graduated from my school from ones that are still attending it is the fact that the graduates all have orange hair.

Not that there's no good reason for that. Beauticians try to pressure my wife into having her hair dyed just about every time she gets it cut. They always say the same thing: "Black hair makes you look so unfriendly. You'd look so much more sociable with a lighter color!"

No offense, but I don't think Asami's orange hair does much for her cheerful demeanor.

(Uh, oh...what's that sound of scraping metal coming from Martin's direction?)

Aunt K said...

Her hair is not "orange" and besides, she is wearing a hair piece, because her natural hair is short.
Some guys seem to have some obsession about Japanese girls' hair.
I think Asami's hair looks fine and actually her beautician is my mother's cousin.

Pandabonium said...

MM - It's from the Irish side of the family.

Don't let it bother you Aunt K. Moody is a graduate of the John Bolton school of diplomacy.

Reena said...

Lovely pictures. I LOVE her hair :)It just reminded me of what we Indians do, for a wedding. We usually go to a parlour and get the beautician to drape the sari and do up the hair.
Lovely tradition, lovely kimono. And I had no idea they cost so much. The saris we wear here in India for a wedding is usually made of pure silk and can cost a lot and some spend a few thousand dollars on it but the average Indian wouldnt spend that much.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Lovely pictures and what a lovely kimono and girl. But she is so serious. What kind of clothes does this girl usually wear?
That last photo - courtesy of Photobucket I expect keeps leaping up at me, even you Panda and I just have to back off!

Pandabonium said...

Thanks Wendy. Everyone has had a laugh over the lack of smiles. Her mom was taking pictures and I was just tagging along, but next time I'm going to be more proactive and make sure smiles. She's a college student and wears typical clothes for kids that age - jeans, tennis shoes, blouse, jacket.

The slide show might look better if they offered other options, like having the pictures come from the sides or top and bottom rather than zooming.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Auntie K, it's not just Japanese girls' hair. During the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in 2002 the U.S. media was having a feeding frenzy over the fact that there were fewer players with black hair on the Japanese team than on the American one. There are a lot of people in the world that wonder what the obsession with colored hair is.

If it makes you feel better, when I first came to Japan the teachers in the English department at Kashima High School told me that I should get my hair dyed blond so that the students would see me as a "real" gaijin and therefore respect me. I thought they were joking at first. They weren't.

I didn't. There's is absolutely nothing wrong with my natural hair color, thank you.

(Maybe that's why this is getting under my skin...)

Pandabonium said...

Thanks Reena,

Perhaps you'll have an opportunity to post some pics of wedding saris on your blog some time. I'd bet they are quite beautiful.

By the way, I see that your PM, Singh, is coming to Japan for a few days to sign some trade agreements and perhaps look for support for the US-India nuclear technology deal.

Reena said...

I shall post some pictures sometime. We usually wear an offwhite silk sari with gold (real gold thread)embroidery. You cant figure out much from a photo but let me see.