Monday, 14 January 2008

成人の日 Coming Of Age Day

Woohoo yet another holiday!

But wait, why do we keep having those holidays? Sounds interesting to look into it. Hmm Wikipedia says every second Monday of January is 成人の日 Coming Of Age Day. Now what is that supposed to be:
All people who turned 20 during the last year are congratulated on this national holiday. Cities and towns hold ceremonies, often with addresses by prominent members of the community. Many of these ceremonies serve alcoholic beverages, which are the privilege of adults. Disorderly conduct has led some cities to curtail these ceremonies. Until 2000, Coming-of-Age Day always fell on January 15.
Some further research reveals that these celebrates Japanese youngsters love to wear their most renowned 和服 traditional Japanese cloths, like 着物 Kimono, on this day.

Since I have no plans for today, I asked my good old companion Hung Lun next door, whether he has plans and woosh off we went to Atsugi's cultural hall, where the event is supposed to take place.

The cultural hall is a red brick building

Arriving in the city center, we already spot some people in 着物 Kimono and eventually find the huge culture hall, a bit off the city center. In front of the hall many many young people in elaborate dresses have gathered waiting for entrance. I use the time and ask around to be allowed to make some pictures.

Although the female 着物 Kimono surely looks impressive, in spite of the color variations, they all look the same to me ^_^. For the male counterparts most wore boring black suits, but some dressed up in male 着物 Kimono, like their female counterpart, but in subtle dark colors and some dressed up in noblesse wear and/or Samurai clothings. I tried to get some pictures of this scenery:

outside the cultural hall

the girls

the boys

and the samurai, the last one looks like a Japanese playboy from a movie, don't you think?

After we are let in, we go up the stairs and enter a huuuge amphibic hall with a stage below. When we sit down, there is already a first performance going on: 太鼓 Taiko ensemble (Japanese Big Drums). I love those drums, but much more impressive is the music people make with them and above all the incredible artistic performance (e.g. juggling while drumming). While in Europe drums are usually always additional instruments, here they are clearly the star.

After that the mayor of our town enters with another important looking guy, whose function I could not understand. They congratulate the youngsters for becoming adults and sit down to be interviewed by one of them.
The young people searched for pictures of the two politicians, when they were 20 and were allowed to ask them two questions about this age. They choose:

1. Who was the most important person to you at this time.
Both name their families, without their support they could not have studied or survived being 20. After that both mention their friends, some of them they hold dearly until now.


2. Which was your favorite kind of music back then.
Now while the insignificant? guy answers with some Japanese Pop band, the mayor surprises me, when his favorite song Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven is played from the speakers.

We move to the next part. And while we are moving a small orchestra plays flutes and violins. The next part is a movie presentation in which the former middle schools of the young people congratulate them for becoming of age and all give them some more or less wise advise on the way. The people around us laugh dearly when they see their old teachers on screen. Messages include from standard morale stuff to "Always watch your back, when you are on the ball", from a sports teacher. ^-^

Having seen enough and with the program getting more and more boring, Hung Lun and I decide to leave the big hall and buy some groceries. We have been, of course, the only foreigners at the place ;)

the cultural hall is really huge, and still it was almost completely filled with 20 year olds (and us)!

Sometimes you should just ask yourself the reason for todays holiday and then go out and find out about it...


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