Photo: Pakutaso

Parents of bullied teenage girl who committed suicide commission portrait to 'attend' Coming-of-Age Day ceremony

By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Last weekend, Coming-of-Age Day ceremonies, or Seijinshiki, were held across Japan. Well, not everywhere, as many have been canceled, postponed, or turned virtual because of Tokyo’s state of emergency. Still, in Arao City in the southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto, the ceremonies were held as scheduled, but an unusual occurrence is causing a stir.

One seat of the ceremony was occupied not by a person, but a portrait. It was an oil painting in a gilded frame of Chika Fukakasa, a third year high school student who was bullied to the point of suicide three years ago, at the age of 17. The portrait is based on a photo of her taken shortly before she died, rendered as wearing a kimono to suit the occasion in her favorite color, blue, since she would have celebrated reaching adulthood this year at the age of 20.

Her parents commissioned the painting because they wished for her to be able to join her friends at this turning point in their lives. On the day of the ceremony, her classmates carried her portrait to the venue and set it on a chair, where she could watch and listen as if she were among them. One of her classmates, who had attended all the same schools as Chika, said, “I’ve regretted not being able to see how much pain Chika was in at the time…but today, I’m glad that she could be here. I was able to tell her ‘congratulations.'”

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Chika’s mother sent her classmates a card to thank them for their help in getting Chika to the ceremony. “It’s hard for me to think about why she’s not here anymore. But I think Chika would have wanted to cheer you on for your future,” it said.

It was a touching gesture for many in attendance and a powerful reminder that bullying is a real and serious problem, but though her parents were likely happy to see Chika at the ceremony where she would have celebrated becoming an adult, many on Twitter actually thought the idea to be rather tasteless.

“Isn’t this just for the sake of the people who are still alive? At the very least, I doubt she would want to participate in a Seijinshiki together with her bullies.”

“Are these people really her friends if they stood by and watched her get bullied and die? Are they trying to let it end on such a pretty note? Something doesn’t ring true here.”

“Ugh. Sorry to her friends and parents, but I wouldn’t want this.”

“I’m sure the friends they asked couldn’t say no…and I’m sure the parents have very complicated feelings about this. But if it were my child I definitely would not go to this extent.”

“I don’t know how to explain…I feel weird about this.”

“If she was bullied so much to the extent that she wanted to take her life, all of her classmates are her enemies. The idea of being surrounded by enemies at a coming-of-age ceremony makes me want to puke. Those people all did it for their own egos and weren’t thinking about her at all.”

“Hmm…I don’t like the feeling that she was forcibly being put on display even in death. It’s like digging her up from her grave and forcing her to see all her bullies around her smile and be happy.”

Though it may seem tone-deaf to some to celebrate the “coming-of-age” of a girl who isn’t here to be celebrated, perhaps this was simply something that the parents needed to do to help put their daughter’s death behind them. Grief is a hard thing, and it’s difficult to say what their thoughts were in organizing this event, but hopefully allowing Chika to enjoy a staple of young Japanese life like the Coming of Age Day ceremony relieved them of some of the pain of not getting to see her come of age.

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.

Source: Nishi Nihon Shimbun via Yahoo! News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kyoto company starts “Solo Wedding” service for single women who want to be brides for the day

-- Tough-as-nails bullied Japanese schoolgirl stays home from school, but not because she was sad

-- Japanese man’s job is too busy for strawberry-picking date, super-sweet girlfriend saves the day

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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12 ( +12 / -0 )

Absolutely Heartbreaking

9 ( +9 / -0 )

So sad, but extremely poignant.

Bullies are awful. They'll get what's coming to them one day.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I feel terrible.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What a beautiful picture.

In high school there was a nice girl who was made fun of a lot. I knew I should try to stick up for her, but I was afraid of sticking out. My memories of her in high school are all of her looking miserable.

Years later I saw her in line at a bank. I didn't talk with her, I don't think she even noticed me, but I noticed her. She was smiling. It was the first time I had ever seen her smile. She seemed happy, and at peace with herself. It took a load off my mind to know that she had found a better life, after high school, even if I had absolutely nothing to do with her situation improving. To this day it makes me feel better to know that things improved for her, and that despite people making fun of her, she survived.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Bullies who lead their victims to desperation enough to commit suicide are scummy sewer rats. They practically are murderers themselves. Karma is going to bite them in the butt one day.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Oh cricky, reading this article mad me feel very sad, her parents must have been determined and brave to display this painting, and I give them full support for doing so. I also feel that displaying her painting is almost saying to her bullies "remember me?" I am sure that they would be feeling uncomfortable with her looking at them saying "I am watching you" Its a shame that she is not there in person, it must be heart breaking for her parents, I hope they get some sort of closure now. I also wonder if any of her friends are thinking, I wish that I should have done more to help her?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Despite the many responses of her not wanting to be with the bullies, i personally think it is good as it sends a very strong message and triggers everyone who is attending the ceremony be it the classmates, bullies and teachers.

I feel that not talking about it and sweeping it under the carpet is more disrespectful to her and to those who may be facing this culture right now.

Whether the comments are positive or negative it has definitely played its part bringing up the conversation and hopefully saving someone cause it made someone think twice.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

many on Twitter actually thought the idea to be rather tasteless.

Actually you know what was tasteless? Devoting half the length of an article about something as tragic as this to quoting Twitter trolls disparaging the grieving parents.

Seriously, why was that neccesary?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Teenage years can be a stuggle for anyone even without bullies.

I wish there was some way for kids to realize what a very short period of time those few years are, and as Glen1 points out you can and will be happy.


4 ( +4 / -0 )

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.

Its nice to see this line on the article, but I think that J news could add this to the to the main web page after health covid and then

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thomas TankJan. 16 08:33 am JST


This is an understatement, but I cannot think of a better one word description.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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