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What’s Coming of Age Day in Japan?

The concept of “coming of age” or “changing into an grownup” is necessary in many cultures. Some cultures even have fun the event with elaborate events, comparable to quinceñeras in Latin American tradition and bar mitzvahs or bat mitzvahs in Jewish tradition.

Japanese tradition likewise marks the transition to maturity with festivities. Nonetheless, not like in most traditions the place the celebrations are particular person, in Japan a nationwide vacation is put aside to acknowledge everybody who turned an grownup that 12 months! 

That nationwide vacation is Coming of Age Day, or seijin no hello (成人の日). It occurs the second Monday in January annually. On this publish, we’ll check out the historical past behind this distinctive day and the way it’s celebrated. We’ll even spotlight key phrases you need to use in case you’re fortunate sufficient to seek out your self in Japan for this vacation!

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The historical past behind Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age Day is a big vacation in Japan now, however when did it begin?

There are information of coming of age customs in Japan relationship again to the Nara interval (710-784 AD). Nonetheless, they have been fairly totally different from what’s noticed in Japan as we speak. The most typical custom was somebody altering from a “little one coiffure” and “little one clothes” to an “grownup coiffure” and “grownup clothes”. This occurred round ages 12-16 for each women and boys.

Coming of Age Day itself wasn’t established till after World Battle II. By this time, the acknowledged age of maturity had risen to twenty years previous.

To raise spirits within the struggle’s aftermath , a celebration was held in 1946 in Warabi Metropolis of the Saitama Prefecture. (Saitama borders Tokyo to the north.) This occasion was known as the “Youth Pageant” (seinen matsuri, 青年祭り). 

This precursor celebration was a large success, inspiring different cities to conduct their very own! It turned so standard so shortly that Coming of Age Day was formally established in 1948, and the primary nationwide celebration was held on January 15, 1949.

Selecting the date

January 15 was initially chosen primarily based on the Lunar Calendar—they selected a full moon to mark the occasion! Nonetheless, issues modified after the Kobe Earthquake (additionally known as the Nice Hanshin Earthquake) on January 17, 1995. 

This catastrophe stirred the nation into motion, and an unprecedented variety of folks volunteered to assist. Thus January 17 was declared “Nationwide Catastrophe Prevention and Volunteerism Day”, and the week from January 15 to January 21 turned “Nationwide Catastrophe Prevention and Volunteerism Week”.

To keep away from overlap, Japan determined in 2000 that Coming of Age Day can be the second Monday of January, placing it between New 12 months’s and Nationwide Catastrophe Prevention and Volunteerism Day. This choice coincided with the set up of the “Completely satisfied Monday System” (happi- mande- seido, ハッピーマンデー制度)—a coverage began in an effort to reliably create three-day weekends by transferring public holidays to Mondays.

How is Coming of Age Day celebrated?

The primary exercise for Coming of Age Day is the Coming of Age Ceremony (seijin shiki, 成人式). 

The occasion feels much like a commencement ceremony, as a big group of younger folks attire up and gathers to hearken to speeches. These speeches are carried out by distinguished members of the group, comparable to native officers, and are supposed to encourage the attendees for the subsequent stage of life.

With a purpose to take part within the Coming of Age ceremony, one’s twentieth birthday should happen inside the present faculty 12 months (between April 2 of the earlier 12 months and April 1 of the present 12 months). This implies some who attend will nonetheless be 19 years previous.

Those that match the necessities ought to obtain an invite within the mail. This contains foreigners staying in Japan beneath a scholar visa or different long-term visa! The invitation will direct potential contributors to totally different places primarily based on their dwelling tackle.

The ceremonies are primarily held at native metropolis workplaces. Nonetheless, fortunate residents residing close to Disneyland in Chiba (east of Tokyo) are literally invited into the theme park!

Apart from the Coming of Age Ceremony, folks can have fun the vacation with shrine visits (omairi, お参り) and sophistication reunions (dousoukai, 同窓会).

Shrine visits generally comply with a specific etiquette for cleaning and praying. For shrine visits round Coming of Age Day, the brand new adults could associate with their dad and mom or mates to want for success. Nonetheless, this isn’t presently a well-liked customized.

However, class reunions are fairly standard! These are extra informal get-togethers with a number of ingesting and enjoyable dialog. Japanese folks usually preserve involved with previous mates from center faculty and highschool, making it simpler to rearrange these occasions. Some izakaya (Japanese-style bars) acknowledge the advertising alternative and provide reductions for teams celebrating Coming of Age Day!

The change in age of maturity

On April 1, 2022, the authorized age of maturity modified from 20 years previous to 18 years previous. Which means 18-year-olds in Japan gained a lot of the rights of adults, together with voting (though smoking, ingesting alcohol, and authorized playing are nonetheless restricted to these age 20 and older).

Due to that, folks have been questioning if the celebration of Coming of Age Day will change. However as of now, only a few locations have altered their customs. Actually, plainly a widespread shift is unlikely. 

It’s because most 18-year-olds are ending up highschool, so that they’re busy with making use of to and making ready for faculty. Anybody who’s been by means of that faculty software course of can most likely relate to their emotions! (And it’s an much more hectic time in Japan, as college students should examine for and take troublesome entrance exams. In distinction to the SAT, these exams could differ from faculty to school.)

On prime of that, the authorized age for ingesting remains to be 20 years previous. 18-year-olds would thus be unable to take part in a typical customized for Coming of Age Day.

With that in thoughts, metropolis officers are thoughtful and need to preserve the age of celebration to twenty years previous. Nonetheless, some locations are opting to vary the title and name the occasion hatachi no tsudoi (二十歳のつどい) (actually “gathering of 20-year-olds”).

What do folks put on on Coming of Age Day?

Whereas there aren’t any official guidelines for what you may put on to the Coming of Age Ceremony, there are normal customs for what folks will select to put on.

When folks consider Japanese conventional clothes, they consider a kimono. However the truth is, there are a number of several types of kimono worn for various events!

The kimono generally worn by ladies on Coming of Age Day is named a furisode (振袖). It’s characterised by lengthy sleeves that grasp so low on the underside they practically contact the bottom. These dangling sleeves naturally “swing” as one strikes, which really offers this kimono its title–furi means “swinging” and sode means “sleeves”.

Since Coming of Age Day is in winter, women will usually put on a fur scarf (fa- no sho-ru, ファーのショール) along with their furisode in an effort to preserve heat. The preferred colour is white.

[Insert a picture of a woman with a furisode and a fur shawl]


Furisode are fairly costly! A very good high quality furisode can simply price hundreds of {dollars}. It’s because they’re comprised of silk and require knowledgeable craftsmanship to create. Because of the price, many ladies will both hire or borrow one from a member of the family.

The rental locations for furisode will usually fashion hair as properly. It’s conventional for ladies to put on their hair up with all forms of kimono. For the Coming of Age Ceremony, many will even adorn their hair with cute equipment, particularly those who appear like flowers.

As you may count on, males’s style for the occasion isn’t as elaborate. Really, Japanese males have largely gravitated in the direction of Western-style fits. Nonetheless, some take the normal strategy. 

The standard possibility for males is a flowy pant-like clothes known as a hakama (袴). (Hakama are technically worn over easy kimono known as nagagi (長着), however the prime isn’t referred to when speaking about this fashion of outfit.)

Along with hakama, males could put on conventional jackets known as haori (羽織). The inclusion of a haori makes the look extra formal. Additionally, if their household has a novel crest, carrying a haori with that image is a good way to symbolize their household on the ceremony!

[Insert a picture of a man wearing a haori and hakama]


Whereas haori and hakama usually are not often as costly as furisode (largely within the vary of a whole lot of {dollars}), males could hire these as properly. Since there usually are not many events to put on conventional Japanese garments, this generally is a handy possibility. 

Foreigners who’ve conventional clothes from their dwelling nation are inspired to put on them instead! An space of Tokyo known as Shinjuku (新宿) has an particularly excessive focus of international trade college students. If you happen to go to the Coming of Age Ceremony there, you’re prone to see folks from nations like China, Vietnam, and Indonesia don outfits from their cultural heritage. 

What Japanese phrases ought to I do know for Coming of Age Day?

Seijin omedetou, 成人おめでとう (congratulations on coming of age!)

Seijin, which is similar phrase in seijin no hello and seijin shiki, means “coming of age”. Omedetou means “congratulations” and is used for a lot of different events as properly (comparable to birthdays and New 12 months’s).

Kanpai, 乾杯 (cheers!)

Since one of many principal privileges one will get after turning 20 is to drink alcohol, naturally many will exit ingesting with mates on this present day. If you happen to’d prefer to have fun with them, you may take part within the toast by yelling out kanpai!

Shiawase o negatte imasu, 幸せを願っています (I want on your happiness)

Throughout many events in Japan, folks will trade messages of properly needs. If you happen to’d like a extra heartfelt message to present somebody on Coming of Age Day, you may’t go incorrect with this phrase. 

Discover Japanese with Rosetta Stone

Whereas cultures all around the world have fun the standing change from “little one” to “grownup”, Coming of Age Day is Japan’s personal distinctive tackle recognizing that milestone.

It’s usually stated that Japan is a collectivist tradition, and we will clearly see that group emphasis within the historical past and trendy celebration of Coming of Age Day. Metropolis by metropolis, teams of younger folks collect to be inspired—and to encourage one another—as they take the subsequent step.

If you happen to’d prefer to discover Japan and Japanese tradition, there’s no higher place to begin than by studying the language! Utilizing the Dynamic Immersion strategy from Rosetta Stone, you may prolong your information in a enjoyable, immersive setting that leaves rote memorization behind. And with TruAccent, you’ll obtain fast suggestions on the way you sound, so you may really feel assured in your accent in each dialog! 

Written by Lydia Thron 



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