Monday, 14 January 2013

Seijinshiki


So everybody has the day off because it's Seijinshiki. All the Japanese kids who turned 20 sometime between now and this same day last year are now recognized by the law as real live grown-ups, and they get a whole festival to seal the deal. They will wear the fanciest of kimonos, attend a morning ceremony, run around in kimono-clad crowds, and, in the evening, probably have a night out with their families, where they will pretend to be trying alcohol for the first time.

The official tradition is actually less than a hundred years old, yet, but the “20” comes from the daimyo days, when that was pretty much the halfway point. Which is a bit of a morbid thing to celebrate having reached, actually. When her own seijinshiki came, back in the 90s, the booming economy meant that it was customary to gift your child with either a new car or a kimono, which commands about the same price if you do it up right. (Fun fact: In her university days, it was also common for girls to have several boyfriends, based on the commodities they offered: One gave you rides, one bought your meals, one was interesting...) But at the time, she didn't especially want either of those things, and wasn't feeling like an adult yet in any case, so she decided that at 30 she'd start doing all the “proper” things like developing her career and finding a husband, although she hasn't married just yet. Then she paused.

“Yeah...my parents are kind of worried about that.”

Speaking of seasonal stuff, for reasons that escape me strawberries are in high demand right now. I'd thought it was only a Christmas thing, but the convenience stores have been flooded with all manner of variants on strawberry chocolate, sweets, breads, ice creams, and beverages, and I have no idea why. But if it means a strawberry Kit-Kat is coming down the pipes, I can't complain.

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