Hello from Japan. We hope you are all having a nice start of 2016. It has been more than 2 weeks in this new year. We hope this newsletter finds you well.
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The voting age for National Elections in Japan is now 20 years old, but it will probably be lowered to 18 years old from this summer (the summer of 2016).
I think many young people are puzzled and are not really ready yet for this new law. In Japan, you can drink or drive when you become 20 years old, but the age will be lowerd also? We do not know.
Seijinshiki(Coming of Age Ceremony) is held when you become 20 years old, and it seems 20 years old is considered to be the border between grownups and children in everyone's mind.
I think we wrote about Seijinshiki ceremony in our past newsletter and mentioned that many people wear furisode or hakama to attend the ceremony. Actually we get many phone calls or inquiries about furisode for the ceremony before Seijinshiki. Some people like to wear vintage furisode-they often say they do not like to look similar to other people and want to be `unique'. Girls' parents prepare the kimono - using rental kimono is very popular thing too. Wearing mothers' furisode also is popular (called Mama-furi) if the size can match. Sometimes mothers call us and order the furisode they like and a few days later, we receive the contact again-of cancellation, because the daughters did not like the ones their mothers chose. So when we get those phone calls, we try to confirm politely by asking questions, for example, `Does your daughter like this color?' `Did she see the photos of this furisode?' to make sure the mothers are not choosing furisode by themselves, but it happens very often.
This year, Seijinashiki ceremony were held on January 11th(some places, it was January 10th). Cities invite people who become 20 years old this year for the ceremony-most of the case, the ceremonies are held at city assembly halls. Mayors give the speech-they try to `impress' young people and seem to use many `method'. One mayor is famous for his `song' performance. Some mayors seemed to have hard time - nobody was listening.
Urayasu city in Chiba, the new grownups are invited to Disneyland on the Seijinshiki day.
Kitakyusyu city is famous for the unique costumes of `some' young people each year.
Wearing the same color kimono like a team uniform is popular and also girls wearing kimono with very `attractive' style, not traditional way, also become the hot news each year. (Not all attendants are this way, just some percent of people).
It was said the Seijinshiki in some places are becoming like Halloween party. We heard many mothers were disappointed to see the costumes thier daughters or sons chose to wear. (There must have been many fight in families before Seijinshiki).
We understand the parents' feeling but at the same time it is their(new grown ups) day after all. Here is the video to show the Seijinshiki from Kitakyusyu city. They look like gang a bit but some are showing their appreciation to their parents, one guy was saying he wants to help elder people by making a senior people's home. One guy who was wearing `furisode' was saying, `Forgive me with my starange costume, it is one time in my life time, just today!'.
So it is a very special day for them and `Medatsu'(standing out) and is what they wish to do. Are they just trying to get attention? Some older people just frown and say it is such a regret....but for those young people, it means a lot. I am not saying it is good or bad, but they know this is their last day as children- the reality as grown ups is waiting.One guy was saying in the interview that there would be no fun from tomorrow, this was my best day'. If many young people feel that way, it must have been our (older generation) fault, There are so much fun as time goes by and life is not so bad. So much nice moments are waiting. Egaode Ganbatte! (Keep smiling and keep trying).