Seijin-shiki Part 2: Crowds in Kobe, or, Nice Guys
Don’t Wear Hakama

by mo on 01/24/2010

…Noriko and I were all dolled up, seijin-shiki-style, and met up at the Hotel Okura in Kobe where Noriko had been dressed, and take some nice photos, courtesy of ojiichan’s nice camera and photography skillz, plus extra help from host mom and obaachan.

Noriko & Mo

Met up with Noriko’s friend Sayuri and her family. Good to see them for the first time in several years too.


Sayuri’s family, seijin-girls, and ojiichan, obaachan, and host mom on the right

Next stop: photography in the conveniently-placed Japanese garden right behind the hotel. It was not very cold, but you can tell it’s winter because there would probably be more leaves on the trees otherwise…?


And here’s the photo that makes me feel like a tall-ass gaijin:


It probably doesn’t show in these photos, but we were all feeling extremely rushed and stressed out (except for ojiichan, who insisted on taking hundreds of photos from all different angles, and then later remarked to Noriko that she’s kinda running late!)

But the actual seijin-shiki event was going to start soon…

So Noriko and I packed our giant obi-enhanced selves into the car with host mom, ojiichan, and obaachan, headed for Kobe’s Home’s Stadium, where the ceremony was held. Met up with Kana and another friend from high school, Nijika:


Nijika, Kana, Noriko

As we approached the stadium, we were surrounded by every single other 20-year old in Kobe. That’s a freaking lot of people.


In front of Home’s Stadium


Quite a crowd in front of the convenience store. Traffic: disrupted

On seijin day, girls wear furisode and guys typically wear suits. Some guys, however, choose to wear something more traditional and go with the male version of a hakama, like what I’m wearing. However, as Noriko pointed out, those are usually the kinda guys who are really 調子乗る, or think they’re bad-boys and can pull anything off. As a result, nice-boys specifically avoid being seen in hakama on this day because they don’t want people to think they’re trying to look badass.

And as it turned out, most of the guys who showed up in hakama did have that “I wanna be baaaad” edge.


Girls in warm fluffy white shawls


I didn’t have a fluffy white shawl – this was almost worse than not having a kimono ;)


Above-mentioned boys in hakama. Or at least suits and white sneakers.


This hakama guy doesn’t look so bad… wonder what gives


Noriko and Kana in their fuzzy-white-shawls

White hakama boy is kinda awesome


The rare blonde hair and sunglasses look.

I’m not sure where he falls on the spectrum of hakama vs. classy suited boys.


ossans and photographers watch from the bridge.

The main thing going on was just to stand around in this giant crowd of kimono and suit wearing 20-year-olds. The event is held town-by-town, so my friends kept running into people they knew from elementary school, since most people go to nearby schools when they are little, and then farther away for middle/high school.


More photography going on.


Nijika kept finding old classmates


Dude amidst many ladies in kimono and those white furry things.

Eventually, the massive crowd began to make its way slowly into the stadium…


The crowd moves in…


View from the front of the line!


You have to show your invitation to the ceremony at the door (proof you’re a new seijin, I guess).


Eventually found a place to sit


About half the stadium was full

This is the part where this whole ceremony is a bit of a mystery to me. Some dude welcomed us, there were people standing at the bottom of the stadium, but nothing of interest was going on. There was about a 5 minute dance performance, aaaand that was about it. We decided we were bored after about half an hour and left.


On the way out


Finally, across the street from that massive crowd.

Noriko’s mom came to pick the four of us up, and we headed to their apartment in Sannomiya to chill out for a few hours before the high school reunion. I went shopping for a last-minute gift (this was the day before I left Japan). However, in Sannomiya, unlike by the stadium in Kobe, most people were NOT dressed up in kimonos, so I stuck out like no other. The stares were the normal amount of staring (due to my foreign-ness) multiplied by a factor of 1000. I even got verbal response (this is extremely rare). Some kids complimented me (they were about 13), and later I came upon a middle-aged dude who saw me and completely stopped in his tracks. Speechless.

I stared back, and eventually he realized he’d been staring long and intensely enough that some kind of verbal interaction was required. He stammered 似合う (looks good on you) and got out of there.

I came back to the apartment in time to snack, attempt to go to the bathroom in my hakama (not an easy task), get Noriko to put her custom-made nails on me:


And take the most fabulous picture I’ve ever been a part of:


Sad as it was to break up this powwow, it was HIGH SCHOOL REUNION TIME. So once again, we piled into the car and headed for Hotel Okura.

To be continued…