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Seijin shiki

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Seijin shiki

Coming of Age Day
Observed by Japan
Type National
Significance Congratulates and encourages all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old) over the past year and celebrates adulthood
Date Second Monday in January
2013 date
2014 date
2015 date
2016 date
Frequency annual
File:Seijin no Hi - tokyo - 2009.ogv

Coming of Age Day (成人の日 Seijin no Hi?) is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old (二十歳 hatachi?)) over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults. Festivities include coming of age ceremonies (成人式 seijin-shiki?) held at local and prefectural offices, as well as after-parties amongst family and friends.

History

Coming of age ceremonies have been celebrated in Japan since at least 714 AD, when a young prince donned new robes and a hairstyle to mark his passage into adulthood.[1] The holiday was first established in 1948, to be held every year on January 15.[2] In 2000, as a result of the Happy Monday System, Coming of Age Day was changed to the second Monday in January.[3]

Until recently, all young adults attending the coming of age ceremony were exactly 20, having held their 20th birthday after the previous year's Coming of Age Day but before (or on) the present Coming of Age Day. In current practice, some of those attending the coming of age ceremony are actually only 19 years old; attendees are those whose 20th birthday falls between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of the current year.

Coming of age ceremony

Coming of age ceremonies (成人式 Seijin-shiki?) marks of one's coming of age (age of majority), which reflects both the expanded rights but also increased responsibilities expected of new adults. The ceremonies are generally held in the morning at local city offices throughout Japan. All young adults who turned or will turn 20 between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of the current one and who maintain residency in the area are invited to attend. Government officials give speeches, and small presents are handed out to the newly recognized adults.

Many women celebrate this day by wearing furisode, a style of kimono with long sleeves that hang down, and zōri sandals.[1] Since most are unable to put on a kimono by themselves due to the intricacies involved, many choose to visit a beauty salon to dress and to set their hair. A full set of formal clothing is expensive, so it is usually either borrowed from a relative or rented rather than bought especially for the occasion. Men sometimes also wear traditional dress (e.g. dark kimono with hakama), but nowadays many men wear formal Western clothes such as a suit and tie more often than the traditional hakama.[4] After the ceremony, the young adults often celebrate in groups by going to parties or going out drinking.[1]

Declining attendance

Japan's low birth rate and shrinking percentage of young people, coupled with disruptions to some ceremonies in recent years (such as an incident in Naha in 2002) and a general increase in the number of 20-year-olds who do not feel themselves to be adults have led to decreased attendance of the ceremonies, which has caused some concern among older Japanese.[5] In 2012, the decline continued for the fifth year in a row, with the total of 1.22 million adults celebrating the holiday in 2012 - under half of the participants seen at its peak in 1976, when 2.76 million adults attended ceremonies. This is the first time it has declined below the 50% threshold. [6]

See also

  • Genpuku
  • Secular coming of age ceremony

References

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