What if Cinderella dressed up in her finery only to discover, last minute, that the ball was canceled? This year, thousands of real-life Cinderellas are hoping COVID-19 won’t dash their dreams of morphing into fairy tale princesses for their seijinshiki (coming-of-age ceremony) on Jan. 11. My daughter is among them.

In a country where formal ceremonies and shared experiences are an important part of youth culture, canceling feels unthinkable. “My friends and I have looked forward to our seijinshiki for years. I can’t imagine not doing it,” says Arisa Takamori, a second-year university student from Chiba Prefecture.

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