Photo:Hideya HAMANO on Flickr

Coming of Age Day in Japan

Second Monday of January marks as the Coming of Age Day (成人の日) Seijin no Hi) and it is a national holiday in Japan. Coming of Age Day is not considered as an ancient event. It was first introduced in 1948. In the period between 1948 and 2000, it was celebrated on the 15th of January. When Japanese government introduced Happy Monday System in 2000, it was then changed to the second Monday of January. As in this year's case, it was on the 11th of January.

Seijin-shiki (成人式) or Coming of Age Ceremonies are held by the local government all over Japan in order to commemorate the coming of age day. Coming of age ceremonies have been celebrated in Japan since at least 714 AD. It is usually conducted at at local or prefectural offices. Young adults who maintain residency in the area and those who turned 20 between April of the previous year and April of the present year are invited to attend the ceremony. Foreigners who fit into those categories are also invited as well.

Photo: toyahara on Flickr

Twenty years old is the legal age in Japan. It is considered as a big turning point because once an individual reach twenty, he officially become adults in Japanese society. It means that not only your liberty is expanded but your responsibility is also increased as well.

Unlike any other day, governmental offices are full of young adults. Most of them come to the ceremony with their parents. Woman who attend the ceremonies usually wears furisode, a style of kimono distinguishable by its long sleeves. Furisode are worn by unmarried women and it is the most formal type of kimono. Wearing furisode symbolize that the woman is a single and legal adult, and thus available for marriage. They also wear zori sandals, traditional Japanese flat and thong sandals. And as you guess, yes. Make up and setting a special hairstyle is also a must. Most of them tie up their hair and put some fake flowers. Meanwhile, the majority of the men wear western suits and ties. But some of them wears a male type of kimono called hakama.

The ceremony is a good timing to catch up their old friends. As lots of people will meet their old friends, the atmosphere before the ceremony is like a school reunion. They greet their old friend and take a lot of pictures together. The main points of the day is getting lots of photos, especially for women.

The event during the coming-of-age ceremony usually quite differs from each regions. The ceremony normally includes speeches from distinguished figures. Some regions may also include traditional and cultural performances. At the end of the ceremony, they hand out small presents such as flowers. Apart from going to the ceremony, they also have to visit the local shrine with their families. After the family events, they celebrate reaching the legal drinking age at izakaya with their friends.

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