Seijun Shiki Day ( 成人式) in Japan.
By, Uwe Paschen.
Today is a very important day here in Japan (日本 Nihon or Nippon, officially 日本国 Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku) for most Families since most have some one in their family that will celebrate 成人式 (Seijun Shiki) meaning Adult Ceremony. It is the Japanese coming-of-age ceremony. The age of majority in Japan is 20. The seijin shiki covers all those who will reach this age during the current school year, which runs between April and the following March. It is a big deal here and even for us this year since our eldest daughter is turning 20 as well. However since she is in University in Canada we will have to improvise and repeat it with her once she is back. Never the less the ceremonies are held in each prefectural office, in Japanese Temples, 神殿 (Shinto kami, shrine) being a 拝殿 hall of worship.
The 着物 Kimono (The word kimono simply means things to wear and is pronounced kee-mo-no.) Is necessary on this day for both, Man and Woman alike, and the Families usually travel back to the birthplace of the one turning 20 for the occasion. It is a national Holiday here since 1947 and the festival was adapted from an earlier time. The Woman turning 20 will wear a 振袖 (furisode), it is a Kimono with long sleaves made from silk, and that only unmarried Woman can wear. The Man will wear a 袴 (Hakama) A dark Kimono made from Silk as well.
Great parties and in some areas fire works as well as memorable speeches from the elders are all part of the festivities and my personal favourite of course my mother in laws 寿司, 鮨, 鮓 (sashimi and Sushi) The word Sushi literally means “it’s Sour” and Sashimi means “pierced body” it does designate raw sea food dishes.
Today though every young Woman in that age group is wearing a new Kimono, made especially for this event and the Young Man are wearing their Hakama. Those Garnement are not inexpensive, they do go from 5000.00 Euro all the way up to 20,000.00 Euro. Some thing to be well planed ahead of the Seijun Shiki day.
The extended Family is celebrating together and of course, the Shrine is visited as well. The young adults turning 20 and there Family’s have to go back to there respective Birth place, why the Holiday Is needed so they may be able to travel, in some cases rather far and others can stay home for they never left there Birth Place.
In Japan, the connection with one’s Birthplace stays very strong and there are several occasions where one has to revisit one’s Birthplace. Japanese are strongly connected to their land and the Family Shrine, as European used to be as well until the Second World War.
It is nice to see that traditions and customs are being kept even today in the World that seems to be in turmoil and despair!
Unfortunately the weather has suddenly turned rather cold for the past two days and the lack of insulation in Japanese buildings is truly puzzling me still today, since the winters are rather cold here and the Summers Hot. Insulation would save an immense amount of energy. Even though I know that most countries have rather poor building policies and disastrous insulation. Maybe I expect more from the Japanese in this regard. In The Cities where most rent an apartment the Land Lords main concern is profits and the cost of heating is the tenant’s problem, there for no one invest into insulating buildings unless it would be made a Law and legislated by the Government and that has not yet happen here! I have to admit though that Japan is a leader in many other aspects of environmental Laws and practices, Never the less unfortunately Central Europe seems to remain the overall leader when it comes to the environment and good management!
Our bad habits as individuals and as a Society in matters of environmental protection and conservation seem to be rather hard to change and improve, even though it does make perfect sense and is nothing but logical to protect our environment and practice conservation of energy!
The Idea that People may change if one leads by example is not always true either, since I know that for a fact, out of my own experience of building a Farm that was to be a model in environmental technologies. know how and practices. The result was much grief and opposition from Community as well as institutions.
It took a century to teach People all over the World to disregard the environment and to abuse it and it may take even longer now to teach People all over the World to relearn good management practices and respect their environment, Nature and to practice conservation and use logic!
This is why some traditions such as the Kimonos should be kept, since they do really insulate well and leave you rather comfortable even in the coldest of buildings. Maybe those that come of age today or this Year will be wiser and more conscientious then their Elders where. The Emperor remained silent today and so did the Prime Minister, maybe this is a good sign for things to come.
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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia