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

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