Young men and women in 3 northeastern Japanese prefectures that were ravaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami marked a rite of passage on Sunday, attending ceremonies before Japan's Coming of Age Day. The national holiday on Monday honors people who turn 20.
Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures will have 56,060 new adults this fiscal year. About 170 took part in a ceremony in the town of Shichigahama in Miyagi.
Mayor Kaoru Terasawa told them he felt moved by the way they have overcome adversity. He urged them to follow a path they believe in, without fear of the challenges along the way.
The participants were in their first year of junior high when the disaster hit, killing a female fellow student and destroying their school buildings.
Toshiki Nakagawa and Nami Asano gave a speech on behalf of those who attended the ceremony. They said the tsunami robbed them of precious things, but thanks to the efforts of many people, their town was reborn. They said it is time for all of them to take a step forward.
Asano was friends with the student who died. She said she wished they could be at the ceremony together. She said she wants to think of ways new adults can help with the reconstruction.