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Japanese youth getting rowdy at their ‘coming of age’ ceremonies.

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 09:27:32 -0000
From: “Martin Adamson” (spam-protected)
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Subject: Drunken Japanese youths ruin coming of age rituals

The Electronic Telegraph

Drunken Japanese youths ruin coming of age rituals

By Colin Joyce in Tokyo

(Filed: 15/01/2002)

DRUNKEN youths disrupted Japan’s annual coming of age ceremonies yesterday, adding to concerns that the younger generation do not share the traditional Japanese values of courtesy and patience.

Japanese women celebrate at the coming of age ceremony in Tokyo The ceremonies are intended to mark the attainment of adulthood by those who turned 20 in the last 12 months. In recent years, however, the events have become a painful annual reminder of the growing gap between the generations.

In Naha city, on the southern island of Okinawa, seven people were arrested after youths drove through a police barricade in an attempt to bring a barrel of sake to the ceremony. Scuffles followed and 200 riot police were eventually deployed.

Takeshi Onaga, the mayor of Naha, said: “These stupid antics really leave me feeling sad and pained.”

Older Japanese observed their own coming of age ceremonies in respectful silence. Most recall it as an important rite of passage, though not necessarily because of the ceremony itself.

For many young women it represents the first opportunity to wear their elaborate, and breathtakingly expensive, full kimonos. While most women still wear their kimonos, a large number of the new adults sport hair dyed an orange-blond.

Yesterday, youths cheerfully swigged from huge sake bottles for television cameras, while others gave interviews in the deliberately rough street speech that older Japanese find boorish and inelegant.

Arrests marred ceremonies in several other cities. In Miyazaki, several youths set off firecrackers during the national anthem.

In Aomori, northern Japan, two boys mounted the stage and threw mayonnaise at each other before running off. Elsewhere, speeches were disrupted by hecklers.

It surprises no one that the new adults indulge in some drinking, but older Japanese say that in their day they waited until after the official business before getting drunk.

The Japanese believe that the virtues of respect for other people and patience are what make their society work so there is great disappointment that many youths are unable to sit through the ceremonies without chatting on their mobile telephones.

Sympathisers point out that the ceremonies are typified by boring and lengthy speeches but attempts to liven up events have led to some cringingly embarrassing scenes.

In Urayasu city, outside Tokyo, young people chose to fete their emergence as adults by dancing with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at nearby Disneyland. The generational change may be partly explained by the fact that 20-year-old Japanese today are further than ever before from the trappings of adulthood.

Ninety per cent still live at home and are economically dependent on their parents. A prolonged recession has damned many to low-paying, part-time jobs with little responsibility.

The average age of marriage and parenthood has risen by several years in the space of a generation. A survey showed that three quarters of 20-year-olds do not feel themselves to be adults.