Seijin no Hi – 成人式. The day when young Japanese girls and boys celebrate the achievement of an important step in their lives.
In Japan, January is par excellence the month of celebrations and traditions.
Depending on where we are in the world, the majority age is reached at different times of life.
In countries like Indonesia, Iran, Myanmar and Yemen, boys and girls are declared adults at the age of 15. Cambodia, Cuba, Pakistan, Palestine at the age of 16. North Korea, Tajikistan at 17, and in most European countries, the long-awaited age is 18.
In the country of the Rising Sun, this important passage is celebrated on the second Monday of January, on the day called “Seijin no Hi”. Declared a national holiday, this day is entirely dedicated to young people ready to turn 20, and includes those born between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of the current year.
In every municipality, a large conference is organized in which young people participate together with their families. Here, several popular figures famous for have helped the community, offer insights through inspirational speeches.
The topics covered are related to the means of being adults, together with the responsibilities they should understand to build their future.
Identifying who the “future adults” are on the streets will not be difficult, especially near the various municipalities (where they usually gather for the conference and group photos).
Walking around the streets during this day, you will see groups of girls and boys dressed in a very formal way, according to tradition, followed by relatives and family ready to capture this moment with photos and videos.
The origin of this festival dates back to 714 BC, when a young prince made his debut with a new hairstyle and clothing, to celebrate his 20th birthday, making an unusual gesture that remained impressed in history.
It was made official at “National Day” later in 1948.
The traditional costume includes Furisode for women (a type of Kimono with long, wide sleeves) and Haori Hakama for men (complete male Kimono).
Often adapted to modern times, some girls decide to choose colorful Furisode with original print (cats or phosphorescent colors) with special makeup and hairstyle, along with boys who preferred a jacket and tie style.
The meaning of becoming an adult in Japan
If the big official celebration takes place at the age of 20, important social rights and duties are already assumed earlier (for example, the right to vote or drive at the age of 18).
In a deeper sense, this day marks the boy’s separation from his family so that he can start to take care of himself.
From now on, young people are in charge of themselves and their actions. They can begin to consume and drink alcool and Tabacco legally, achieving that (long-awaited) sense of freedom.
Get ready to see Bar and Izakaya filled with groups of young people ready to celebrate the end of this day with a few good glasses of beer or sake.
In comparison with the past, young people tend to no longer participate in this celebratory day because of various controversies.
The Japanese government is thinking of lowering the age of adulthood to 18 years, so at to link this moment with the right to vote; to the possibility of getting married without the consent of an adult; to have a bank account and to have a passport valid for 10 years (ed. at the moment minors can only obtain a passport for 5 years with the signature of the parent);
However, up to the age of 20 the possibility of drinking alcohol or smoking is not allowed.
You can therefore understand the disappointment of young people.
Who knows if in 10 years the Seijin no Hi, will still be experienced as a time of great celebration.
In the meantime, we have no choice but to congratulate the “New Adults” in the hope that they will live a new life full of satisfaction!