Seijin No Hi: Celebrating Japanese Youth’s Rite of Passage

Seijin no Hi, or Coming of Age Day, is one of the most important national holidays in Japan, not only due to the scale of preparation and publicity but also because it’s one of the most colorful and picturesque events throughout the year.

The holiday, held on the second Monday of January, celebrates young people who have reached the age of 20 in the past year — Japan’s official age of majority. It’s a rite of passage and an opportunity for adults to remind future generations that maturity is not only about the ability to legally drive, consume alcohol and vote.

When did Seijin No Hi begin?

There are several theories regarding the holiday’s origins, including some that date back as far as the 700s, when a young prince presented his clothes and hair as a sign of becoming an adult. However, the official holiday began in 1946, when a small city in Saitama (currently, Warabi City), organized an event to give hope to younger generations after World War II. Other municipalities began to follow and in 1948, Sejin no Hi was established as a national holiday to commemorate young adulthood and celebrate their journey to a new life on their own.

How is Seijin no Hi celebrated?

Before officially bidding goodbye to their childhood, 20-year-olds registered in the area are invited by each municipality to a large ceremony at its local city hall. A series of lectures are conducted by established adults (key city hall figures, for the most part) on what it means to be an adult and the responsibilities young people have for building …continue reading