Coming of Age Ceremony in Japan

What is Coming of Age Ceremony in Japan and its origin?

Coming of Age Ceremony is called Seijin Shiki in Japanese. It is a ceremony to congratulate and celebrate children stepping into adulthood.

In the past, Coming of Age Ceremony seems to have been held long between age 12 and 16. It was after the war that Coming of Age Ceremony began to be held at age 20 as it is now. It is said that Coming of Age Ceremony was first held in 1946 in Warabi City, Saitama Prefecture, at Youth Festival. Then it spread nationwide, and January 15, 1949 was enacted as Coming-of-Age Day.

How is it celebrated?

The ceremony starts at 11.30am. It is usually held in local event halls or large scale venues. After the official ceremony in the morning ended, many usually go to temples of shrines to pray and take pictures, go for a drink (as they have reached the legal age to consume alcohol now) or have meals in restaurants to end the day.

When is Coming of Age Ceremony?

Coming of Age Ceremony is generally on the second Monday of January (in some prefectures it may differ due to the snowy weather)

Coming of Age Day was initially set to January 15 because it is customary to perform the ceremony on the first full moon of the new year according to the lunar calendar. However,January 15th is not always the full moon on a modern calendar. Therefore, Coming of Age Ceremony was changed to the second Monday of January due to the revision of the Holiday Law in 2000 (the law is commonly known as “Happy Monday Law”)

How do the coming-of-age young women and men dress on this special day?

Women

On the day of Coming of Age Ceremony, the city is crowded with young women who are wearing a type of Japanese traditional Kimono, which is called furisode. Furisode is a formal wear for unmarried young women. During the ceremony, it is a good manner for women to wear furisode. (Refer to 25 Types of Women’s Japanese Kimono and When to Wear Them for more details)

Men

Most young men prefer to wear western suits while some wear traditional Japanese Kimono. The types of Kimono that are suitable as men’s formal wear are Kuroha Butae and Iro Montsuki with 5 crests. (refer to 6 Types of Men’s Japanese Kimono and When to Wear Them for more details)

At what age is a Japanese considered an adult?

A Japanese is considered an adult at the age of 20. However, according to the revised civil law, the adult age will be reduced to the age of 18 (starting 1st April 2022).  

What are Japanese allowed to do after reaching adulthood?

After a Japanese reached adulthood, one will:

  • have the right to vote
  • make a contract with one’s own name including mobile contract, car loan, tenancy agreement and so on
  • get married without parental consent

However, alcohol, tobacco and public sports (public races that can be gambled on legally) are still restricted to the age of 20 even after the revised civil law is implemented.