There are many gifts in being an expat. In Japan, our family's experience has been one of encouragement; to enjoy the food and drink, temples and shrines, music, their beautiful clothes (as long as we wear them appropriately). We're welcomed to be a part of rites of passage and traditions.
And today's is very special.
Seijin no Hi, or Coming of Age Day, is one of the most important national holidays in Japan, not only due to the scale of preparation, the publicity, but also because it’s one of the most colorful and picturesque events throughout the year. Last year we were at Disneyland when the newly legalized adults came to be celebrated. It was so incredibly beautiful!
This holiday, held on the second Monday of January, celebrates the men and women who have reached the age of 20 in the past year-Japan’s official age of majority. It’s a rite of passage and an opportunity for adults to remind future generations that maturity is not only about the ability to legally drive, consume alcohol and vote.
That said, this is a day for extravagance-on par, I've been told, with wedding attire. The young men wear suits and ties or a hakama (skirt-like pants with a dress robe). Women wear beautiful and very costly kimono-sometimes new, sometimes gifted, many times rented. They spend the day before letting their hair treated then wake up on their big day to get their hair and make-up done.
They arrive at designated spots to be greeted by scores of photographers, visit shrines to be blessed with wishes from their families, then spend the rest of the day celebrating! While the children were riding Space Mountain, this was a the initial "meet & greet" by the press to those arriving at Disney for their special welcome by Mickey.
This year looks a little different. Rentals are down, many shrines are closing to avoid crowding, and numerous Seijin no Hi celebrations are being done virtually. It doesn't mean you won't see these lovely ladies and gents wandering through the city today, we simply won't be a part of it. Why even mention this? Because as a resident of Japan and being 20, it's Madeline's day to be celebrated!
I was fortunate to have a dear friend, Fumie, offer to help us write wishes and have her name called at Meiji Shrine for this special day. Our original plan was to all go together this morning, translated wishes in hand, but with the SOE and her flight on Friday, we opted for a safer, very small celebration instead. Fumie, we remain so grateful to you!
Tea was the obvious next best thing, and since it made Madeline happy, that's what mattered most.
Plus, this meant avoiding the chilly outdoors!
Tea for two, and two for tea...the most precious tradition while enjoying a new one!
Happy Seijin no Hi, sweet girl!
Wishing you luck, love, success, and all the happiness in the world! Your smile is as brilliant and radiant as you. Continue to live your life with your wonderful spirit, amazing heart, and desire to make the world a better place.
Cheers to you!