The second Monday in January is Coming-of-Age Day in Japan. Ceremonies are held in each city to celebrate people turning 20 years old. In Japan, people are legally considered adults at age 20, and this holiday celebrates those who become adults during the school year.
Although the tradition has existed in one form or another since ancient times, it was made a national holiday in 1949. It was originally celebrated on January 15th, but Coming-of-Age Day was eventually changed to the second Monday in January. This gave people an extra day off over the weekend as part of Japan’s “Happy Monday System.”
People wear formal dress for the ceremony, so Coming-of-Age Day is one of the big opportunities for us to wear traditional Japanese clothes in modern culture. Most men choose to wear a western style suit, but many don “Haori-Hakama.” For women, it’s a chance to wear bright “Furi-Sode.”
“Haori-Hakama” is a type of kimono. “Haori” is a kind of jacket and “Hakama” is a kind of pants. The outfit is normally black, gray, and white, but some men choose to wear extremely colorful “Haori-Hakama” for their ceremony.
“Furi-Sode” is a type of kimono for young women traditionally associated with purity. “Furi” means swing and “Sode” means sleeve. The outfit has very long sleeves that swing when you move. The sleeves are used to display even more of the kimono’s beautiful patterns, which makes this version extra gorgeous and elegant. Accessories are also important to add a woman’s charm, so “Tsumami-Zaiku” hair ornaments are an important part of Coming-of-Age Day in Japan.
The ceremonies are very large events held in public places like gyms and concert halls, so many cities are cancelling them this year because of the Coronavirus. I really enjoyed Coming-of-Age Day in Japan, and I feel very sorry for those who are going to miss out. I hope that we will be able to have the ceremony next year, though.
Stay safe, everyone!