Do you know that people celebrate their 60th birthday extravagantly in East Asia? It is called Kanreki in Japan. Kanreki means the completion of the 60-year-cylce of the Chinese lunar calendar. People who turn 60 are sent something red to wear by their family and/or friends in Japan. This is because newborn babies used to wear red clothes as the color was believed to repel evil in this country. After 60 years it is believed that people complete a full cycle and return to the starting point, so they ware red clothes.
Why am I writing about this tradition? My Tai Chi teacher reached her 60th birthday and there was a big celebration for her at Sir Winston Hotel in Yagoto at the end of November. She looked gorgeous in her RED dress at the party!
Actually, when some of my teacher’s students started planning it half a month ago the party was supposed to be small with only several people. But it eventually became big enough to use a banquet room in the hotel because 60 students from her five classes got together to celebrate her 60th birthday!
The atmosphere of the party seemed like a wedding reception. Many of the items in the room had the word “Wedding” on them. But there was only one exception: There was a candle blowing ritual by the teacher instead of the usual wedding cake cutting ceremony.
The participants enjoyed talking to other classes’ students, their congratulatory speeches, and delicious food. Of course, so did I! But I could not remain seated at the table because I was the party photographer and had to move around during the party.
After the party I spent more than one week making a special photo album with more than 30 pages for my teacher and souvenir cards for the participants. They appreciated it and gave me many gifts later: lots of cake, money, coupons, message cards etc. I was greatly impressed by their consideration, especially my classmates’ surprise! They bought me a big lunch!
I usually have lunch with them at the sch ool cafeteria after our Tai Chi class. It only costs around 400 yen or so. But they insisted on having lunch at a restaurant in a department store nearby that day. I did not know that they had been planning to treat me as a ‘thank you’ until we were about to leave the restaurant. They stopped me taking out my wallet and told me in chorus that they would pay for me. I was very surprised! My Tai Chi teacher’s Kanreki celebration made me very happy!