Coming of Age


With all the posts over the past several years, I am sometimes shocked by what is not there.  Apparently I have only made mention of the Coming of Age ceremony three times; and then it was only in passing. January 9th was Coming of Age Day (成人の日・seijin no hi) this year. Since 1948 there has been a holiday and it was originally set for the 15th of January; however, in 2000 they changed it to the 2nd Monday in January as part of a campaign to make three-day weekends.

Adulthood officially comes at the age of 20 in Japan. Young women usually dress up in vary ‘festive’ kimonos. Recently there has been a trend toward black-based fabric with shocking pink designs. Personally, I find the new style garish. I suppose this is ensconcing my reputation firmly in the crotchety old fogie category. Most young men will also dress up, but the number wearing traditional kimonos is small. The purpose of the ceremony is to recognize passage into mature adulthood, but like so many traditions around the world it is often more about a chance to party. One Japanese friend, of similar age to me, was upset with the irony yesterday when many people chose to celebrate their passage to adulthood by going to Disneyland for photo ops with Mickey.

Similar to America, rights of adulthood are not all inferred at a magical age.

  • Drinking age, 20
  • Smoking age, 20
  • Marriageable age, 20 (or with parental consent, 18 for boys and 16 for girls)
  • Voting age, 20 (debating lowering to 18 since 2007)
  • Military service, 18
  • Driving license, 18
  • Scooter (50cc or less) license, 16

Regardless of the overall meaning of this holiday, for most people it is another three day weekend. I spent my day getting my hair cut for the school opening ceremony today and taking care of paperwork and chores around the house.


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