This week’s featured article
Police have received at least 160 complaints after a kimono rental firm halted operations just before Jan. 8’s Coming-of-Age Day ceremonies, leaving many young women without formal attire for the once-in-a-lifetime event, sources said.
Hundreds of women made kimono reservations with Yokohama-based Harenohi and were getting ready for the event when many of the company’s employees failed to show up. The company’s shops were closed and staff were unreachable.
The firm, established in October 2008, also runs shops in Tokyo’s Hachioji, Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture and the city of Fukuoka.
The company had posted losses for two consecutive years through September 2016 due to ballooning costs of employee salaries and rent. It started delaying payments to some clients in 2017, according to credit research firm Teikoku Databank.
In Yokohama, about 200 women were waiting at a hotel for employees of the local shop to help them with their kimono. But the shop has been closed since Sunday with no sign of any personnel, according to the local commercial complex that houses the store. The facility has not been able to contact the shop’s staff.
The hotel had to ask another service provider to send staff to help the roughly 100 women who had brought kimono from home, but the rest weren’t able to wear the traditional garment, according to a hotel official.
Staff were absent from the shop in Hachioji on Monday and local police said around 100 women had reported the situation. The Tsukuba shop caused no major problems as it stayed open until Sunday, the day local governments in Ibaraki held their ceremonies.
While staff at the Fukuoka shop helped customers get dressed the day before, it was closed on Tuesday with a note posted in front of the shop saying: “We cannot get in touch with our head office. We have done everything we can but we can no longer operate.”
College student Miu Uchiyama said she had to borrow a kimono from her mother’s friend.
“I was crying the whole time … I can’t believe this happened at my Coming-of-Age ceremony,” she said.
Women in Japan wear lavish furisode kimono, often worth several hundreds of thousands of yen, when municipalities hold celebrations for new 20-year-olds on or around the annual holiday, designated as the second Monday of January.
First published in The Japan Times on Jan. 10.
One-minute chat about kimono.
Collect words related to “grown up,” e.g.,
adult, alcohol, responsibility.
1) halt: to stop, e.g., “The company halted the project because of safety issues.”
2) attire: clothing, e.g., “Casual attire is not permitted in this club.”
Guess the headline
Kimono r_ _ _ _ _ firm’s sudden closure leaves women scrambling on C_ _ _ _ _-of-A_ _ Day
1) What was the reason for the confusion?
2) When did the company start having trouble with its finance?
3) How did the situation differ for each shop?
Let’s discuss the article
1) How was your Coming-of-Age celebration?
2) What do you think about this incident?
3) Does anything more need to be done to help the young women who were affected?
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