National

Hachioji group leads charge to redo Coming-of-Age Day for women ambushed by kimono firm’s failure

by Sakura Murakami

Staff Writer

Some of the new adults who were deprived of kimono for Coming-of-Age Day when a debt-ridden rental firm folded on Monday will get another chance to celebrate the event in style next month with help from volunteers, it was learned Friday.

The Hachioji Seijin-shiki Present Project said in a Facebook post it had secured 120 kimono and plans to provide hair-styling and makeup services as well as photographers and the venue for the occasion.

Volunteer kimono dressers, photographers, hairdressers and beauticians, as well as donations to hold the event, are being sought for the project, which is being led by a woman from a separate kimono shop in the city.

The flurry of activity was triggered when Kimono rental firm Harenohi went bust on Monday, Coming-of-Age Day, leaving scores of young women without the traditional attire traditionally worn for the adulthood ceremony.

On Tuesday, however, volunteers launched the Hachioji Seijin-shiki Present Project to help victims of Harenohi’s Hachioji branch for free. The organizers announced Friday that the redo ceremony will be held on Feb. 12 in the city.

“This is meant as a ‘gift’ from our community to the new adults,” project representative Maki Nishimuro said. “It’s not about having a big or flashy ceremony . . . All I want to do is put a smile back on their faces.”

Nishimuro, whose family runs the separate kimono shop in the city, saw many women and their families go through various stages of shock, anger, and tears on Coming-of-Age Day because of the fiasco.

After seeing the 19- and 20-year-olds burst into tears upon realizing they had missed their once-in-a-lifetime chance to celebrate adulthood in the lavish traditional dress, Nishimuro felt something had to be done.

So she set up a Twitter page and a Facebook account calling on the victims to attend a special adulthood ceremony set up specifically for them.

The project drew a flood of support. Many of the comments on social media are strongly supportive of the initiative and praised Nishimuro for her efforts.

“Hats off to this initiative and her incredible energy,” said one Facebook user. “I am truly moved by the kindness and generosity toward those who are heartbroken.”

Harenohi ceased operations on Monday, and authorities in Yokohama had received more than 560 damages claims worth an estimated ¥184 million as of Thursday. The company also had branches in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and in Fukuoka.

According to Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd., a Tokyo-based credit research agency, Harenohi had debts of ¥610 million in fiscal 2016 and a negative net worth of ¥320 million.

The company also failed to pay salaries between August and December and was warned by a Yokohama labor authority five times.

Information from Kyodo added.