Calling all 20 year olds! Anyone, anyone?
If you’re a young Japanese entering his or her third decade of life, then today – the second Monday of the year – is your day. Coming of Age Day (or Seijin no Hi, in Japanese) is the time to celebrate your passing into adulthood – you can now legally drink and vote. Huzzah!
For the average tourist to Japan, this day might pass without any notice. Unless you happen to be hanging around a municipal office, where Coming of Age ceremonies are traditionally held, you might just wonder why a greater number of young people are suddenly sporting kimono. (Also, the karaoke clubs always seem to be packed on these days). For the young people, however, Seijin no hi is almost like a bar mitzvah – dress up to the nines (for women, this can mean a long-sleeved furosode kimono; for men, a tailored suit or traditional hakama), get gifts from friends and relatives, and have a huge party with your friends.
In recent years, however, Coming of Age Day has taken on a somewhat somber air. As the lack of twenty-year-olds shrinks with every passing year, it only serves to highlight Japan’s growing population crisis. Ony 1.22 million young adults celebrated in 2012, down from the record high of 2.76 in 1976. With a system that’s increasingly top-heavy on the senior citizen side, the dwindling numbers are cause for some concern.
If you’re in Japan today, I hope you can catch a glimpse of one of these “new” adults in all of their finery. The furosode kimono are especially lovely!