What's a Kanreki?
A Kanreki Card
LeRoy's is the first
Kanreki that we've ever observed. We had a vague idea that
it was a significant birthday for Hawai`i's Asian ethnicities.
Since, we have learned
that it is basically a good old-fashioned Asian birthday party. A kanreki is the
celebration of a person's 60th birthday and is traditionally
hosted by the honoree's family.
A bit of research
uncovered the following:
makes the 60th birthday so special?
the honoree has been around the Chinese zodiac with its
12 animal years 5 times, i.e., 12 x 5 = 60.
does that mean?
A: Fortunately, some years
ago, a friend gifted us with a handy dandy book, FAMILY
TRADITIONS IN HAWAII by Joan Clarke. This comes straight from
"In the lunar
calendar, the passage of each of the five elements -- wood, fire,
earth, metal and water -- with each of twelve animal years makes
up a sixty year or sexagenary cycle.
birthday (sixtieth on a Western calendar) marks the beginning of
an individual's second childhood.
It is an important event
for many Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan and Korean families in
Hawai`i, often commemorated with a large party or family
Q: What does the
word kanreki mean?
A: Ms. Clarke goes on to
tell us the meaning of kan-reki:
"Kan" means cycle +
"Reki" means calendar
[pronounced: kahn reh kee]
Q: What are
the kanreki traditions?
celebrate this special occasion,
the 60-year-old person wears red clothes. The traditional garb
includes a red bouffant hat (e-boshi) and a red sleeveless
Q: Why red?
means baby or literally, "red one" in Japanese. Aka means red.
The 60-year-old person is once again a baby who is embarking on the next 60-year cycle.
It is a rebirth. Donning red then
symbolizes that return to babyhood.
Q: Is this kanreki
not! It can be for a birthday boy or a birthday
girl. Here's a birthday
girl in Japan celebrating her 60th.
Q: Why is
it referred to as a year of reflection?
A: 60-year olds
are expected to use this year as a year of reflection. They are to
look at their lives and achievements and use
this time as a good opportunity to plan the direction in which they would like to move
as they begin their second sixty year cycle of life.
there other coming-of-age celebrations?
A: Yes, the
Japanese have many good excuses to party.
Beyond the Kanreki, they
celebrate the Koki (70 years old), Kiju (77 years old),
(88 years old), Sotsuju (90 years old), Kajimaya
(97 years old), Hakuju (99 years old), and Hyakusai No Ga (100 years
And of course there's yakudoshi,
a kind of exorcism to pass an unlucky year safely. google.com
has tons of information on this milestone.
Q: Where can I
learn more about this Kanreki celebration?
A: Here are
some sites for those inclined to learn more: