Everyone born in between 2nd April 1989 and 1st April 1990 got a letter about a month and a half before the ceremony. I only just made these dates by one week, so I'm glad I could go. I was very impressed that foreigners got invitations. It really made me feel more integrated into society. Even though Rob and I were the only Westerners there!
Every city or ward in Japan holds a ceremony for the twenty year olds (twenty is the legal adult age in Japan) who are resident in that area.
It's a very important occasion, so Rob and I got up at 9am and changed into our suits, and walked up to the station to catch the bus. We're lucky we live in the centre of Koganei City, Musashi Koganei, so it only took twenty minutes to get to the high school where the Ceremony was held. It was in a large auditorium in Chuo University's High School, which looked like a very prestigious school.
We arrived at about 10.30 for the 11am start. The front gate was already busy with boys in suits and girls in traditional kimono (着物). There were people giving out small cards as we walked in who congratulated us, in both Japanese and English.
Rob and I presented our letters at the front desk, and they gave us a programme of the morning's events. We took our seats and watched the beautifully dressed people file in. As we waited, they were playing a panpipe version of the Titanic theme tune by Celine Dion on repeat. It was so random!
The ceremony started dead on 11am with a traditional dance and music performance.
This was followed by a song, which was possibly the Japanese National Anthem. Either way, Rob and I didn't know it, and lots of other people weren't singing!
Following the song were speeches by important people of Koganei City, like the Mayor. They had a sign language interpreter there too, which I thought was very good.
It may sound a bit strange, but being part of that ceremony was a bit like validation of living in Japan. As a foreigner, you feel left out and alienated from so many aspects of Japanese culture, it was really nice to feel more accepted. And now I really feel more grown up! I'm very glad I was here to experience the Seijin-shiki, and I recommend it if you ever get the chance to be part of one.