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WHEN EAST MEETS WEST: Coming of Age Day |

Commentary by Hank F. Miller Jr.


( It is a natural step for parents who have seen their children through age seven to hope their kids grow up to become decent adults.As a result,people in Japan adopted the social custom of expressing gratitude for and celebrating the arrival of maturity in a splendid if solemn ceremony. Such coming of age rituals are still observed today.



At Meijijingu on "Coming Of Age Day"...Image via Wikipedia

Long ago,the average life span was only 40 years, the age at which one was considered an adult was much younger.Boys were considered adults at around age 15, girls at around 13. Boys participated in a ceremony in which they were given a crowning of sorts,which means the cutting of their long hair. The ceremony for girls was the"celebration of 13." There have also been times when there were ceremonies for girls who turned 15.In any era, the aim of these ceremonies was to mark the end of wearing childish clothes and hairstyles,and to adopt the appearance of adults. Girls may wear Kimono with extra-long sleeves,which are considered the style of a young, single girl who might wear flashy colors or bold styles to festivals or formal events,such as her wedding if she wishes.The long-sleeved kimono have been reserved for girls since the Edo period.Boys on the other hand wear a Hakama.



The holiday to recognize arriving at the age of majority was made official in 1948, the ceremonies usually take place in a school's, community center's or other such public places. Speeches by well known politicians, teachers or well known citizens are given as to encourage student awareness of themselves as adults and the need to behave responsibly,but in recent years there have been more and more cases of these solemn events not going very smoothly. Some of the new adults lack the patience to sit through a highly formal ceremony and listen to solemn speeches from important people, more recently they began to act out a bit,drawing attention to themselves.

Under the current laws in Japan, upon reaching the age of twenty,the individual is given a variety of rights and responsibilities.Smoking and drinking are legal at twenty.After the Second World War, most communities began to hold big ceremonies on the second Monday of January.

Today in our area of Kitakyushu City there are many ceremonies held to celebrate the coming of age day.

 Warm Regards from Kiyakyushu City ,Fukuoka, Japan.

Hank F. Miller Jr.


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