Tomorrow (January 11) is a holiday in Japan. It’s a pretty big deal if you’re 20 years old. Think debutante-level big deal.
It’s 成人の日 (せいじんのひ, or seijin no hi) and it’s the annual Japanese Coming of Age Day
Okay, so it really has nothing to do with me- I’m not Japanese or 20 years old- but it’s a day off from school and it’s still really cool to see everyone dressed up for the ceremony. Let’s talk about it a little bit and then we’ll get to the elaborate fashion involved! (YAY 🎉)
成人の日 (せいじんのひ, or seijin no hi) Coming of Age Day
It is an annual holiday held on the second Monday of January each year. The purpose of the day is to hold a ceremony acknowledging that the people who have turned 20 years old during the past year or will turn 20 years old before April 1st of this year, are adults. This means that some of them are still 19, which used to confuse the heck out of me.
The ceremony, called 成人式 (せいじんしき, or seijin shiki) is held in the morning, usually at the local city office auditorium. In Nagoya, sometimes they are at the larger elementary school or junior high school gymnasiums. The local elected officials will speak, the new 成人 (せいじん, seijin) will receive presents and lots of pictures will be taken.
After the ceremony, the people who are 20 years old will usually celebrate by going out and getting trashed because the legal drinking age in Japan is 20.
As I said earlier, think debutante-level big deal for these girls. Most of them wear really beautiful kimono called 振袖 (ふりそで, or furisode), characterized by the long, flowing sleeves. It is actually the most elaborate kimono worn by unmarried women in Japan. Wearing this kimono on 成人の日 symbolizes that the woman is unmarried and an adult. These kimono are very expensive to buy (think thousands of dollars), so they are typically rented. You can read more about them here.
In addition to the gorgeous kimono, they will have their hair and makeup styled at a salon. I saw a salon ad that said, 一生に一度の成人式 (Once in a Lifetime Seijin Shiki) advertising different packages. Seriously, like a wedding/prom/debutante ball.
To complete the look, some of the women will also get their nails done to match their kimono. The nail looks range from simple to insane-over-the-top-elaborate.
The overall look is pretty dang stunning. Like, I’ve lived over here going on 6 years now and some of the kimono looks still take my breath away. It’s moments like that when I remember that I live in JAPAN and I get excited about being here all over again.
As for the men, most of them choose to wear a western-style suit. You may see some of them wearing a more traditional kimono with hakama pants, though.
I really want to share the beautiful, rich culture of Japan as much as I can with you guys. One of the (many) perks of living in a country with such a long history is that the culture and way things are done runs just as deep. Honestly, there are a few drawbacks as well that I’ll highlight in a later post, but I’d rather focus on the awesome as opposed to the negative! 🎆
Congratulations on becoming an adult.