Adoption Day Events Held in ShibuyaSeeking understanding of “various types of families,” promoting awareness of special adoption

The Nippon Foundation has designated April 4 as Adopted Children’s Day, because the characters for April 4 can be read as yoshi, which is also the Japanese word for adoption. To mark this year’s Adopted Children’s Day, a series of events was held on Saturday, April 7, to promote awareness of special adoption. The events were held at the 109 shopping complex in Shibuya, Tokyo, with the theme “Knowing about various types of families.” There are other types of families in addition to those with biological parent-child relationships, including step families when one of the parents remarries, and foster families. “Special adoption” is when an infant or child who cannot be raised by his or her biological parents becomes a legal and permanent member of another family (as opposed to regular adoption in Japan, when an adult changes family registry for business or inheritance purposes), and the day’s events were to make people aware of this type of family. The events were based on the concept that even though referred to as “special” adoption, these families are just like other families.

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An interview on the stage in front of the 109 shopping complex

The 109 shopping complex is located just beyond the famous “scramble” crossing in front of Shibuya Station, and the events were held on a stage in front of the building. In addition to discussions with adoption organizations and representatives of step families, there were performances by an a capella chorus of university students and acrobats using Chinese spinning tops. The stage had a background of 500 fresh flowers and there was a space for taking pictures, and visitors were encouraged to share their photos via Instagram and Twitter with the event’s hashtag. There was also a riddle-solving game for participants to play, and tote bags with designs incorporating “#FAMILY,” “#DIVERSITY,” and the event’s Japanese hashtag were distributed. The program was designed so that passersby would stop for even just a few minutes, and then naturally pass on to their friends what they had seen and learned about special adoption.

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A riddle-solving game for visitors of all ages, from children to adults
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The harmonies of an a capella chorus of university students encouraged visitors to stop by

In previous years, Adopted Children’s Day events have been held at places like The Nippon Foundation headquarters in Tokyo, and attracted mostly people in their 30s and 40s who were involved in special adoption and their friends. This year’s event was held at the 109 building in the middle of Shibuya, a bustling shopping and entertainment district popular with young people, to promote awareness of special adoption among younger people. Although the weather was unstable, as is often the case in early spring, many people including young people, families, and visitors from overseas stopped by the event.
Students from Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior College, which has its campus in Shibuya, were involved in this year’s event from the planning stages. Their contributions included the use of the word ohana, which is the Hawaiian word for “family” in the broadest sense and also similar to the Japanese word hana for flower and to the flower vernaba in particular, as a solution to the riddle-solving game. Verbena flowers were incorporated into the stage and tote bag designs. These students also promoted the event in advance using the hashtag on social media, and assisted with welcoming and guiding visitors during the event.

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Pink verbena decorating the stage backdrop

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