Thousands of Miles from Home


Seiji no Hi

Yesterday I felt pretty sharp, and rightfully so:

In this outfit I could totally flip out and kill you, and probably not think twice about it. The second Monday of January is designated Coming of Age Day, or "Seiji no hi" in Japan. It is a national holiday dedicated to those who turn 20 years of age that year. In Japan 20 years of age signifies adulthood because it is the legal age of voting (also drinking and smoking). Many young people dress in traditional Japanese kimono and go to local festivals.

But I was not dressed for Seiji no hi. In fact (if you have been paying attention), I'm not even 20 years old. I was going to a tea ceremony with my host mother and her friend, Saeki-san (she was in an earlier picture on the website playing jenga. Her husband is the one playing guitar). I borrowed my host father's kimono which happened to fit perfectly. In the morning one of my host mother's friends came over help dress in the kimono. It is a very difficult process (especially for women) which involves various articles of clothing and intricate fastening methods. The Obi, or bow in the back of a kimono, is especially difficult to tie by oneself.

After we "suited up," I felt pretty dangerous. Especially in the geta, a traditional japanese wooden shoe. Then it was off to the tea ceremony. When we arrived I walked in to find about 15 people stuffed into a very tiny tea room. Everyone looked very surprised to see me, and to tell the truth I was pretty shocked to see that many people in one room. There were two small children, a bunch of middle aged people, and at least one very old woman. After I introduced myself about half the people left the room so the other half could have the first cup of tea. There is a very intricate process involved in the delivery and comsumption of Ocha, or japanese green tea. You also eat a small sweet with the tea. The whole time I was pretty busy thinking about how much my legs hurt in the seiza position. But I didn't fidget or anything, and drank my tea with a smile and some pleasant conversation.

After the first cup of tea, everyone left the room so the other half could have a try. Many of the people at the tea ceremony were students, so they took turns carrying the tea in and out of the room. I was invited to have a second cup of tea with the other half of the group. Afterwards, people came back into the room to eat lunch which was a prepared Obento. People commented as usual on my ability to eat all types of japanese food. In fact I can eat about anything but I could probably do the same in any country. Especially when I'm hungry, and the tea didn't do a great job of satisfying my apetite.

After the tea ceremony and a few pictures, Kawai-san, Saeki-san, and I went to Saeki-san's mother's house. She was very happy to see us and served us some tea and cookies, which made me smile. She was also very good at sewing, with various pieces of her handycraft about the house. After finishing our tea we went to the house of a man who was at the tea ceremony earlier. He had told me that he liked to make things out of wood, such as the fence surrounding the japanese garden at the tea ceremony teacher's house. Inside of his house were more crafted items, including a large wooden table made by hand. We were offered more tea (which I took happily because it was so cold out) and took some pictures in his tea room. He was very nice as was his wife.

Afterwards, the three of us walked home where I changed back into regular clothes. That evening my family and Saeki-san's family went to eat at a nearby restaurant, where tons of fun were had. Jirou-sensei, the man who playes the guitar very well, is rather outgoing and funny when he has a few drinks. I also found out that his full time job is not teaching music, although he does give lessons quite often. He works for a company which makes food for livestock and birds. His company is in turn owned, or somehow related to DIC. You may remember DIC (or at least I did) as the company that used to sponsor children's television shows on PBS and a few other networks. Inspector Gadget was sponsored by DIC.

So a very nice day. The kimono was quite comfortable, aside from the chilly weather outside. I wouldn't mind wearing one again sometime.


  • Nice anecdote. Sounds like a good day. Your good-natured participation in all manner of cultural events is making me look bad!

    By Cinnacism, at 8:16 PM  

  • hahahahh, dangerous, my boy you are ;D
    coming of age, eh?
    you goofy kid you.

    By Anonymous, at 6:17 AM  

  • coming of age requires a strong shield and kostya.

    i smile and tear up when i read your blog

    By Kostya the Bear, at 2:46 AM  

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