Coming of Age in Japan

By Ken Furusawa

In Japan, people are legally considered an adult when they reach 20 years old. It is one of the most important moments for Japanese people throughout their life. After Japanese people turn 20 years old, they can drink, smoke and make loan contracts by themselves. What is more, Japan has an official national holiday named “Seijin no Hi” (Coming of Age Day) and people celebrate new adults on that day by holding a ceremony.  It is also a good opportunity to see old friends from school and have reunions since people return to their hometowns from all over Japan for the special ceremony.

Seijin no Hi is the second Monday in January each year. Local governments (usually city bases) organize the “Coming of Age Ceremony,” and those who become 20 years old between April 2 last year and April 1 this year (this time period is based on the school year system in Japan) in that region attend the ceremony on that day. Some officials in the city give a speech of honor and celebrate new adults’ growth. One of the outstanding features of the event is how new adults dress up for the ceremony. Young ladies wear kimono which is Japanese traditional clothes and fashion their hair in fancy hairstyles. Since it takes time to be ready, they wake up early in the morning and prepare. Attending the coming of age ceremony with kimono is one of many girls’ early dreams in their lives, and some of them start planning for it a couple of years ahead. Most of guys wear western suits in recent years while few of them wear the traditional clothes for men, hakama. Everyone dresses nice, takes pictures with family and friends and make the first adult memories.