I visited my city’s big shrine the other day with the goal of talking to a miko or shinto priest and learning a few things about shinto. Especially since I’ve found myself in the regular habit of visiting my favorite shrine about once a week.
I asked a particularly cute miko if she could explain おみくじ (omikuji) and お守り(omamori) (fortunes written on paper and good luck/protection charms) to me. She called over a preist who patiently explained them to me (in Japanese of course … my Japanese is getting quite functional these days).
While there I saw a ton of young women in these beautiful kimonos. I ask one what the special occasion was (in Japanese of course), and she told me there was a 成人式 (seijin shiki) which is a ceremony held for 20 year olds. Every year people who turned 20 since the previous ceremony assemble at these ceremonies in elaborate dress, with their hair done and everything. In Japan one is an adult when they turn 20.
I was preparing to leave the big shrine and pay a visit to a small one that I’ve become fond of when I saw this wonderful scene. You just can’t see this kind of incredible mix of hundreds and hundreds of years of history and tradition next to the modern in the West.