July 16th, 2024

Coming of age ceremony celebrates Japanese tradition at Nikka Yuko


By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on January 13, 2023.

Herald photo by Justin Seward Pearl Long Time Squirrel and grandson Mateo Wadsworth stand in front of a Furisode, a special style of kimono worn by young, unmarried women typically worn during the Seijin-no-hi ceremony in Japan, as part of the Coming of Age Day event over the weekend at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden celebrated the Seijin-no-hi (Coming of Age Day) this past weekend as an annual Japanese tradition to celebrate youth in the community who are entering adulthood.

“Obviously this is not something that we usually do in Canadian Western culture,” said Rhys Winder, the Garden’s education and program manager. “But it’s something we’re trying to bring over and share a little bit of Japanese culture and tradition and kind of familiarize people with some of the customs over there.”

In Japan the Coming of Age ceremony celebrates those that are turning 20 on the second Monday of January each year, however the Lethbridge event instead recogonized 18-year-olds.

“It’s in the mandate of the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden that we introduce the people to a lot of the customs and traditions of Japan and kind of share that with the community,” said Winder.

“So that’s a big part of it. We don’t really have anything like this besides high school graduations or a university graduation. But this is kind of a unique event.”

Traditionally, the ceremony sees the Japanese who are coming of age gather at a town hall with the mayor giving a speech welcoming them to adulthood and bestowing on them the importance of maturity and being a strong society member.

“Everybody gets dressed up in suits and kimonos and it’s a big deal,” said Winder. “We thought this fits well…what we kind of do here at the Garden is share these unique aspects of Japanese culture.”

The ceremony was originally known as Genpuku and dated back to the Nara period (710-794 AD) and most participants back then were aristocratic children between the ages of 10-20, and childhood names were exchanged for a new adult name.

The Garden allowed those individuals who turned or who are turning 18 into the Winter Lights Festival for free, and attendees could enjoy a piece of cake. A slideshow was presented for people to learn the history of Seijin-no-hi and some of the attire that is traditionally worn at the Coming of Age Ceremony, such the women’s Furisode – which is a special style of kimono young, unmarried women wore- and the men’s suit or a Hakama on the slide show.

Taiko Drummers were also on hand to perform.

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