Coming of Age Day came and went this week, bringing streams of brightly coloured kimonos into the city streets on what was otherwise to be a rather drab, overcast day. It’s a day when girls who reach the age of 20 go to city hall for a ceremony, I suppose to mark their transition into adulthood, reminding me of the Jewish Bat Mitzvah (the Bar Mitzvah for girls, though that’s at 13). Kashiwa is a fun city and very near me (like 5 mins on the train), so I went there with camera in hand. Luckily for me, the first photo I took was of a girl I trained for the English speech contest way back when she was a Jr. High School student. She was happy to pose for me and of course it was good to see her after so long.
There was a real spirit of fun in the air and I took a lot of photos. Most of the girls started laughing and giggling when they saw me and flashed up ‘peace’ signs as they like to be photographed. I also got a lot of candid photos and, looking at them afterwards, was surprised how often the bright kimono colours matched the lurid advertising that is so popular in Kashiwa (or ‘mini-Shibuya’ as it is also known). I actually think some of them were my students as they seemed to recognise me and they looked familiar, but having taught thousands by now in this area it’s kind of hard to know for sure without actually speaking.
I had a look around for the ceremony Hall, but it seemed to be really far away and by the time I set off in earnest for it, the ceremonies were probably over. So, Kashiwa served as a suitable ‘open air studio’. They were all so natural and happy it made for a good choice. There were also some amusing contrasts- girls in kimonos outside the arcade-game centers they like hanging out in, or the classic motif with a keitai (mobile phone). The sometimes wild hair-styles seemed to go well, perhaps more so here than with regular clothes.
Then, after a few hours, they were all gone, like the vanishing cherry blossoms. That’s the thing in Japan, nothing seems to last very long. but while it’s there, it’s imbued with the vividness and magic of the moment- like bubbles destined to vanish. Luckily, there is always another festival here and always other things going on. that’s Japan! Note: You can see more photos of the day here.