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Renewal, remembrance in ceremonies for new adults

Holding photos of disaster victims, new adults pose for a photo at a coming-of-age ceremony in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, on Sunday, January 12.

Publication Date : 14-01-2014


Japan's traditional coming-of-age ceremony remembers those who died in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake


Haruka Ogata stood before the Buddhist altar in her home on Sunday, wearing a indigo kimono with long sleeves for Coming-of-Age Day.

Now 20, Ogata lost her 19-year-old brother Satoru and her 71-year-old grandmother Inami in the tsunami generated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Her family’s home was also destroyed.

Four months later, her oldest brother Naoya was killed in a traffic accident at the age of 21. Her younger brother is her only remaining sibling.

The loss of her home, a kindhearted grandmother and two family-minded elder brothers in such rapid succession was staggering for the young woman. To overcome this agony, she poured herself into her high school soccer club. After graduation, she got a job with a seafood processing company in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture.

“I still cry when I think of the three family members we’ve lost, but I’m an adult now. I feel like I have a duty to them to embrace living,” Ogata said.

In Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, another area devastated by the quake and tsunami, 12 people who would have joined in the ceremonies welcoming new adults this year lost their lives in the disaster. Chifumi Miya, 20, an executive committee member of the city’s coming-of-age ceremony, suggested that the city should include the disaster victims in the event.

A total of 208 new adults attended the ceremony, some of them holding photos of 10 victims whose bereaved families agreed to their inclusion in the event.


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