Our writer received a heartfelt message from his father on his Coming of Age Day 23 years ago which he would now like to share with you.

Our lives-his-life-with-a-dangerous-‘do Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun would like to congratulate all of the 20-year-olds who were just honored on Coming of Age Day in Japan (held annually the second Monday in January). Not to sound like an old fart or anything, but he wants you to keep in mind that life is full of ups and downs. Things won’t always be good but they won’t always be bad, either. At the end of the day, you should be excited about becoming an adult and all of the fun that will entail.

For his own Coming of Age celebration 23 years ago, P.K. received some words of wisdom that he will always live by. They were written to him in a letter by his father, Yoshio. Today he would like to share those very special words with you in the hope that they will also inspire you to live your best life.

P.K. wasn’t even in Japan on the actual day of his Coming of Age Ceremony because he had flown to Seoul for study abroad a few days before then. Truthfully, he didn’t care much about reminiscing over his days in junior high and high school with former classmates, so it wasn’t a big loss.

▼ Narita Airport

On the day that he left, his father dropped him off at the local train station on route to Narita Airport and handed him a simple envelope as a parting gift. It was the first letter that his father had ever given him. At that time Yoshio was just over 50 years old. Come to think of it, P.K. finds it strange that he’s not far off from being that age himself now.

These days Yoshio is a pretty mellow fellow, especially when it comes to his grandchildren, but back then he was very strict and radiated authority. As his son, P.K. never thought that Yoshio was exactly scary, but he had a bit of a reputation among his friends in elementary school. He was the kind of father who wasn’t afraid to rebuke any child, even some random kid on the street, while donning dark shades and sporting a strictly iron-permed, slicked-back hairstyle.

To illustrate, here’s one anecdote from when P.K. was in high school. Those days were the heyday of bosozoku biker gangs in Japan. One of his friends from elementary school had even joined such a gang, and he told P.K. this story after the fact. One day this friend and his fellow bikers had sat down on the floor of a train and refused to move while acting generally intimidating. That’s when Yoshio entered the picture and all of the members simultaneously stood up as if compelled. Yoshio just had that kind of a commanding presence.

▼ A photo of a young P.K. with his father, Yoshio, and his mother

Anyway, let’s get back to the story at hand. After handing over the envelope with a gruff “stay safe,” Yoshio promptly drove away. P.K. got onto the train with his luggage and rested for a moment before opening the envelope. Inside were three crisp 10,000 yen (US$96) bills and a handwritten note.  

Just like the somewhat taciturn Yoshio, the letter wasn’t composed of that many words. There was a basic salutation along the lines of “Congratulations on your Coming of Age Day,” as well as the following in his distinctive penmanship:

“I’ve never once wanted you to become rich. It’s also fine if you don’t want to get married. However, I want you to be someone who is fully content with the way that they live.”

At the time the meaning of those words didn’t immediately click in P.K.’s mind, and he read the part about “someone who is fully content with the way that they live” over and over. He didn’t fully understand it until years later. Ultimately, he realized that his father was telling him to live a fulfilling life, and leaving the requirements for “fulfilling” up to P.K. to choose. If that meant P.K. feels fulfilled by money, then so be it. If that meant he feels fulfilled by loving a woman, then so be it. If that means something else entirely, then he should live his life in whatever way is necessary to achieve that maximum satisfaction.

P.K. thinks that his father is pretty incredible. Yoshio held his son’s autonomy in the highest regard, wished for nothing but his pure happiness, and was not patronizing upon his entry to adulthood.

P.K.’s daughter will attend her own Coming of Age Day 16 years from now. On that day, he will gift her with his father’s words. He hopes that all young adults will also accept Yoshio’s little bit of wisdom as well.

All images © SoraNews24
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