What is Sejin no Hi? When is Coming of Age Day and Ceremonies in Japan?
What’s a legal adult age in your country? What would people do when they legally reach the age of majority? In Japan, people have Coming of Age ceremonies.
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What is Coming of Age Day in Japan?
In Japan, 20 years old has been a legal adult age. This, however, is going to change.
Japanese government has been arguing whether to change a legal adult age to 18. They will officially announce next year and the age of majority will be 18 within 3 years.
But for now, 20 is the age of majority. What would Japanese do when they turn 20 years old?
Well, they would have a ceremony, called “Seijin-shiki” (成人式) which celebrates Japanese Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi: 成人の日).
Seijin-shiki is held on the second Monday of January. In 2017, Coming of Age Day is January 9th. Many Japanese attend the ceremony in local community.
History of Japanese Coming of Age Day
Coming of age ceremonies have long history and the initial ceremony was totally different compared to current one.
The Coming of age ceremonies used to celebrate when people turn 12-16 years old. It was more like ritual and rite of passage.
Boys would set up their hair and wear formal clothes like adult men.
Girls would tie up their hair, wear make-up on and make teeth black.
Present Coming of age ceremonies are rooted Seijin-shiki in 1946.
Warabi city, Saitama Prefecture held “Young Adult Festival” (Seinensai: 青年祭) in 1946. It was right after the World War Ⅱ and Warabi city and Association of Young Adult in Warabi city wanted to cheer young adults up. The festival was taken place to give them hope for the future.
This ceremony was successful and soon spread to other cities and present Seijin-shiki became popular. In 1949, Japanese government set January 15th as formal Seijin-no Hi (Coming of Age Day).
The concept is based on making young adults to recognize and encourage for being an independent adult.
As mentioned, it used to be January 15th but changed to the second Monday of January in 2000.
How do Japanese Celebrate Coming of Age Day?
Although it’s not necessary, many Japanese attend Coming of age ceremonies. They would usually go to local Sejin-shiki.
Some might be held in a community centre, while others might be held in special places, such as Disneyland or Narita Airport.
Since the ceremony is taken place by municipal level, many Japanese see old friends from elementary school or junior high school.
In the ceremony, mayors would have a speech to congratulate participants.
Female participants usually wear Furisode, a formal kind of Kimono, while male participants wear Hakama (kimono for men) or formal suits.
Participants would take pictures, talk to old friends and some of them would go to restaurant or Izakaya after the ceremony. They can officially drink and smoke so they would enjoy drinking with old friends.
Issues with Coming of Age Day in Japan
Some Coming of age ceremonies got attention due to improper behavior.
Some people, for example, wouldn’t stop talking while mayors or guests give a speech. Some wouldn’t stop touching cell phones, while others would go up to the stage and grab a microphone from guests (or mayors).
Some would get too drunk and punch a police officer after ceremony, and some would start fighting at the ceremony like kids.
These young adults give others disappointment.
When I turned 20 I was in Canada, so I didn’t attend Seijin-shiki. I just wore Furisode and took pictures.
I think Seijin no Hi (Coming of Age Day) is a great opportunity to recognize our responsibility as an adult. Every year some young adults get too excited and do something stupid or wrong.
Hope they learn from mistakes and behave!
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