By RYOKO NAKAMURA, Rafu Japanese Staff Writer
TORRANCE — Japanese Culture and Traditions Incorporated’s organization L.A. Nadeshiko Kai, a volunteer group promoting Japanese traditional culture, hosted a Japanese coming-of-age ceremony, Seijinshiki, last week at Holiday Inn Torrance.
Nineteen women in colorful and glamorous long-sleeved kimono and seven men in formal haori and hakama celebrated an important new chapter of their lives: their passage into adulthood.
After their names were called one by one, each entered the ballroom filled with family and friends, walked onto the stage, and said a few words. Some introduced themselves, some shared their dreams for the future, and some expressed thanks for this precious opportunity.
In Japan, Coming-of-Age Day — Seijin no Hi — is a national holiday held annually on the second Monday of January to congratulate those who have reached the age of majority, 20 years old. On this special day, local and prefectural offices hold official ceremonies for those who have just become adults.
Takako Sasaki, the president of the L.A. Nadeshiko Kai, explained why she started hosting Seijinshiki in Los Angeles last year: “Coming of age is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We celebrate it because it’s special. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss this memorable day, especially for single women who have the privilege to wear long-sleeved kimono.”
Sasaki, a certified first-class kimono instructor, personally owns 40 long-sleeved kimonos and five haori and hakama sets. The majority of the participants borrowed her kimono for free. The members of L.A. Nadeshiko Kai volunteered to help them get dressed.
“We understand that it can seem impractical and expensive to buy a full set of kimono for just a day, and on top of that, fewer people know how to wear the traditional kimono nowadays. There’s been a real loss of opportunities to wear these beautiful historical outfits,” Sasaki remarked, adding that she wants to break this negative trend by teaching kimono-wearing classes and giving lectures on traditional cultural practices.
After the congratulatory messages from guests, Alissa Todd, who studies finance at San Diego State University, expressed her gratitude on behalf of the new adults.
Born and raised in the Netherlands, and residing in Ireland and then the U.S. as an adult, Todd said, “I never lived in Japan, but I’ve always been exposed to the Japanese culture, thanks to my family. I will always remember my heritage, and coming to these celebrated traditions is just a reminder. These opportunities are so unique to us Japanese people. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate and be grateful for all the volunteers.”
The participants then exited the ballroom in an elegant procession, as families and friends gave generous applause.
The L.A. Nadeshiko Kai’s activities are not limited to kimono-wearing classes, but also involve promoting education and awareness about Japanese culture in the U.S. with help from other organizations, including chado (tea ceremony) and kado (flower arranging). With over 100 members, the group has been working on fundraising to support its activities. If you would like to sponsor the organization, email [email protected] For more information, visit www.nadeshikokai.org.