Furisode means “swinging sleeves” and boy, do these sleeves swing. 

In Japan, the second Monday of every year is a public holiday called “Seijin no Hi”, which translates to “Coming of Age Day“. On this day, people who turn 20 between 2 April of the previous year, and 1 April of the current year, attend Coming of Age Day ceremonies known as Seijinshiki.

These ceremonies mark an individual’s transition from teenager to full-fledged adult, and the occasion generally calls for formal attire like suits and furisode, long-sleeved kimonos traditionally worn by young, unmarried women.

Lots of new adults like to add personal touches to their outfits when posing for commemorative photos, and one new adult in Japan did that in style, sharing this photo with her 97,000-plus followers on Instagram.

The new adult above is none other than Olympic gold medalist skateboarder Sakura Yosozumi, who turns 20 on 15 March this year. While she’s usually decked out in skateboarding gear for her public appearances, Yosozumi went old-school for her special day, wearing a beautiful furisode, and bringing her beloved skateboard along for the photo shoot too.

▼ Here she is winning gold for Japan in August last year.

“Furisode” literally translates to “swinging sleeves“, and Yosozumi showed just how well those long kimono sleeves swing with a video of her skating on the half-pipe that very same day.

We’ve never seen anyone wearing kimono on a skateboard before, and it was a first for a lot of people in Japan too, who left comments like:

“Skateboarding in a furisode — this is too cool and wonderful!”
“Furisode and a skateboard? I don’t think this has ever been done before. I love it!”
“So cool, and those fluttering sleeves are gorgeous!”
“If there are cute and powerful women like this in Japan, the country’s going to be okay!”

Yosozumi’s unique blend of street culture and traditional Japanese culture really does present a powerful image to the world. And reading the message she wrote to accompany her Coming of Age Day photos on Instagram show she has more than just strength and beauty on her side, she has a heart of gold too.

“I’m filled with gratitude to my father and mother who raised me.”

The Wakayama-born teenager has spoken of her gratitude for her parents before, mentioning that her mother would stay with her until late at night while she practiced skateboarding for hours after school each day.

Thanks to Yosozumi and her parents who supported her, and her brother, for whom she took up skateboarding in 2013 as a way for them to hang out together, a lot of young children today are now taking up the sport.

So if we’re lucky we might see more and more skateboarders letting their sleeves fly in furisode for future Coming of Age Days. Which will be a welcome contrast to these more outrageous outfits that grace the streets of Kitakyushu every year!

Source: Instagram/sakura_yosozumi 
Top image: Instagram/sakura_yosozumi
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