Coming-of-Age Day ceremonies held across Japan

January 10th, 2012By Category: Culture

People offer prayers at Meiji Shrine.

If you were out and about on Monday, you might have noticed lots of young women in gorgeous kimonos. They are new adults — having turned 20 in the past year, and they were celebrating Coming-of-Age Day.

Coming-of-Age Day — Seijin no Hi (成人の日) — is held on the second Monday of the year. It is celebrated by those who turned 20 during the current school year. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry estimates that as of Jan 1, there were about 1.22 million 20-year-olds in Japan, which is  a record low number.

A new adult poses for a photo at Meiji Shrine.

New adults attended all kinds of ceremonies and festive events across Japan, but many festivities were toned down out of respect for the victims of last year’s March 11 disaster.

In some prefectures, ceremonies were held on Sunday. In the hard-hit Tohoku area, ceremonies were tinged with sadness as young people remembered their classmates who perished in the tsunami. Many other new adults are living in other parts of Japan and were not able to return to their hometowns in Tohoku for the day.

At Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, which usually attracts hundreds of young adults, there were far fewer kimono-clad adults and their families than in previous years. Many of the young adults joined thousands in a line to offer prayers for the New Year.

Still, a few girls were happy to pose for photos for foreign tourists and Japanese photographers.

Meanwhile, one of the most popular spots was Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, which drew more than 1,200 new adults on Monday. Young Japanese women danced with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Pluto and other Disney characters on a stage.

In other cases, groups of friends went to amusement parks. Seeing kimono-clad girls screaming in delight from a rollercoaster was an interesting sight.

There were lots of young men celebrating, too, but they are harder to spot because most of them wear ordinary suits — not quite as colorful as the young ladies.

Photos: Japan Today

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