No, I did not just bang the keyboard in the heading to make the title say "Seijinshiki." Seijinshiki is an actual Japanese word, pronounced say-jin-she-ki, which is the name of the Coming of Age ceremony in Japan.
In Japan, a person is considered to be an adult when they turn 20, and a ceremony is held especially for them. On that day, the 20 year old girls wear kimonos, boys wear suits or hakamas, and they go to the Seijinshiki ceremony at a local city office.
One evening a few months ago, I received an invitation from the Japanese government inviting me to participate in Seijinshiki, too. Even though I won't be 20 until March, I was still invited because the Japanese school year is from April to March, placing me in the same grade as everyone else who already turned 20. The Japanese expression used in this situation is "giri-giri safe" [which means "just barely made it".]
My host sister, who goes to university in Osaka, also turned 20 in November and we went to Seijinshiki together. She wore my host mother's kimono and my host family rented a red hakama for me
The morning of the ceremony was cloudy and a light rain was falling. However, maybe an hour before the event, it began to snow. It doesn't usually snow in Tokyo, so it was very special. My family said that I am lucky and the snow fell especially for me.
However, the snow kept falling. And falling. And falling. What started as simple snowflakes turned into a hardcore blizzard. A few hours later, EVERYTHING was covered in snow and it felt like it had been snowing for days.
The ceremony itself made me feel as though I fell into a sea of suits and kimonos. All of the young adults where walking around, chatting with friends, and taking photos.
Being a big and burly Caucasian man, it was not very difficult for everyone to notice me. I received lots of stares and puzzled looks from the otherwise entirely Japanese crowd. I think they thought I was some Seijinshiki crasher or something. I even got interviewed twice, once for television and once for the newspaper.
I think there was another event immediately after the ceremony, because once the ceremony ended, an announcement told everyone to leave the building. Staff members began ushering everyone outside into the freezing snow blizzard. All of the boys in their suits and girls in their kimonos had nothing to do but to stand in the falling snow.
All of the girls and some boys who decided to wear hakamas, myself included, had a difficult time standing in the snow since we were also wearing tabi [traditional socks] and zori [traditional flip-flops] along with our kimonos and hakamas. Oh and no coats, either.
Our parents couldn't pick us up due to heavy traffic and our host dad was having trouble putting chains on the car tires. We couldn't take a taxi because taxis and buses were having trouble driving in the snow. Everyone just stood outside in the snow not knowing what to do or how to get home.
We finally decided that the best thing to do was to walk to the nearest train station, maybe 15 minutes away, in the blizzard.
Walking on snow in socks is a pretty painful experience. Within minutes, my feet were numb and I could not feel them when we arrived at the station.
To our disappointment, all of the trains at the station had stopped due to heavy snowfall. I took off my soaking wet tabi socks and walked around the station barefoot.
However, my host dad was finally able to put chains on the car tires and come to the station to get us. From the station, we drove to a picture studio where we made ourselves pretty again and took some family photos.
All in all, I had a great experience and it was a very memorable Seijinshiki