Seijinshiki in Omiya city, Saitama prefecture (photography by J.Saari)
Seijinshiki, or the ceremony of Coming-of-Age Day is a Japanese annual event (also a national holiday) dedicated for nation's young people who have reached the age of 20. Seijinshiki takes place in second Monday of January.
It is common for 20-year-olds dressed in formal outfits including many young women women in gorgeous kimono called "furisode" (swinging sleeves) to attend it. Often the girls also wear fur collar to keep warm in January. The young men wear suits and take out their girlfriends to shrine.
In Japan under 20's are not allowed to smoke, drink or vote. Coming-of-Age Day takes place in Second Monday of
January, and all those who has turn 20 in the previous year celebrate it. When girl becomes "of age" her parents traditionally buy furisode, or hakama for her, or give the family kimono to her.
Seijinshiki comes from an ancient ceremony called "genpuku". In Genpuku, young people were dressed as adults, and started being treated as members of the adult society. To it's present form it was created in 1948. During that time it was set in January 15, but later it was changed to happen in Monday through the Happy Monday System, which is government's plan to move number of holidays to monday - creating a long weekend for exchausted workers.
Nonetheless, there are controversy whether Japan can afford to have such a holiday just dedicated for young people. After all, during a national holiday Japan is shut off and doesn't produce capital. To boost this kind of thinking, some young people get drunk and cause trouble with the police.
But seijinshiki is important ceremony for young adults. They smile, they cry, and there is some nostalgy in the air. They thank their parents for growing them up and taking care. Say goodbye to old classmates.
It's like young people are shouting to the world "we exist!". For so many years they were been treated as minors, someone who just has to go to school and wear school uniforms. But now, they are full citizens with all the responsibilities but also freedom.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the government gives the new adults a money gift.