Japanese Coming-of-Age for Girls
Dana said in her Japanese family, when a girl begins menstruating, red beans and rice are prepared and eaten to celebrate her transition into womanhood. She said this is a widespread Japanese tradition, and that her family has been doing this forever.
The red beans stain the rice a pink color, which Dana said might be symbolic. Everyone in the family has to have a bit of it. When asked what she thought about this ritual, she said, Its really awkward. Some people in her family who arent as traditional, her Aunt for example, use peas instead of red beans.
This kind of blatant recognition of womanhood is not prevalent in American society. There are no widespread rituals in response to a girls transition into womanhood. In fact, it is kept very quiet. I assume in Japan, the transition of girls into women is a much bigger and more serious celebration, and isnt at all awkward.
In other cultures, it is common to recognize this transitionJewish bat mitzvahs, for example. In the United States, the topic of menstruation and new womanhood is sensitivealmost taboo. Perhaps this American influence on the Japanese ritual is what makes it awkward.