When the Japanese Become Adults: Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi)
A Japanese holiday, Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) is marked every year on the second Monday of the month of January. The day is marked as a congratulatory feat for all those who have attained majority age, which in Japan is twenty years, helping them appreciate the fact that they have now become adults. Once twenty years old, Japanese citizens are allowed to vote, drink, and purchase cigarettes.
Some of the festivities of Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) include Seijin-Shiki (coming of age ceremonies) that are held at the local prefectural offices and other public spaces, followed by parties among friends and families. For instance, in Okazaki, the ceremony is held at the Chuo Sogo Park. The participants listen to older generations impart some of their wisdom through speeches that provide advice and explanations of their new roles as adults in society.
The Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) has been celebrated in Japan for centuries. Initially, it was marked on the 15th of January, but in 2000 this was changed to the second Monday of January in accordance with the Happy Monday System. Some adolescents are permitted to participate at age 19 provided their birthday falls before 1st April of that year.
Seijin no Hi is also a photo shooting opportunity. Most male graduates put on suits, while the majority of young women wear the traditional Furisode kimono dress. The latter is a special type of kimono with extended sleeves and comes in various elaborate designs. It is probably the most formal dress an unmarried woman can wear in Japan. The Furisode kimono is an expensive attire that can cost well in excess of ten thousand US dollars.
Coming of Age Day (Sheijin no Hi) reflects increased responsibilities for the Japanese youth. The significance of this holiday has perhaps grown in recent years as the Japanese have been confronted with the problem of an aging population in which not only there is not enough youth to support the retiring citizens, but that youth is also deemed to be less competent and irresponsible compared to older generations.