Coming of Age Day, on January 9 this year, is a national holiday in Japan held every second Monday of January. It is one of the most anticipated Japanese ceremonies for all who turned 20 the previous year. It is a coming-of-age party celebrated communally and as families. The women don super expensive formal kimonos — ‘Furisode’. There are photoshoots, prayers, and parties to usher the young into adulthood. Reaching adulthood is an important, joyful, milestone that affords you certain liberties, as well as responsibilities, and this holiday celebrates it all in full splendor.
History of Coming of Age Day
Reaching adulthood is a noteworthy new chapter worthy of celebration and in Japan, when age 20 hits, you can attend Coming of Age Day ceremonies. Although the tradition of celebrating Coming of Age — ‘genpuku’ — had arguably been in existence since the late Asuka period (538-710), the first written ancient record traces back to 714 A.D. The then Crown Prince Obito decided his transitioning into adulthood was worthy of total glam up, and he went all out — including new robes and a new hairstyle.
In 1948, the holiday landed official status honors in Japan to be held every year on January 15. In 2000, the Coming of Age Day date was changed to the second Monday in January. During the earliest times, before 710, there was no age specification for the qualification of the ceremony, with ages 10 – 25 qualifying. Males from court nobility celebrated their Coming of Age in a ceremony called ‘kanre’i, otherwise known as the ‘Cap Ceremony’ marking the honors by being able to wear the adult cap — ‘kammuri’.
It is a full day, with youngsters receiving a formal invite from their local government for a speech. Men either wear suits or stay true to their roots in the traditional hakama trousers, while the ladies spend hours playing dress-up; getting their hair done and their elaborate kimono fitted. Events are rounded off by receiving inspiring talks, gifts being handed out, posing for photos, and parties.
Coming of Age Day timeline
Only privileged folk such as nobles and samurai get the honors of a Coming of Age Ceremony.
For the womenfolk, the life-changing ritual, previously known as 'moji' formally changes to ‘genpukku’.
During the Edo period, ages 13 for girls and 15 for boys are considered the age of adulthood, but with the emergence of the Meiji period in 1876, the legal age is set officially to 20.
With the introduction of the Happy Monday System in 2000, moving as many state holidays as possible on Mondays, Coming of Age Day was changed to the second Monday in January.
Coming of Age Day FAQs
What are some of the strangest coming-of-age rituals in the world?
In the walkabout, adolescent Aborigine boys are sent to live in the wilderness for as long as six months. There is an Amazon tribe where boys have to wear gloves with biting ants 20 times for ten minutes without showing pain to become adults.
What are the traditions of coming of age?
Coming of age traditions vary drastically from culture to culture. Nearly every society designates specific rituals, ceremonies, and traditions as a way to symbolize and celebrate the transition from child to adult.
What age is the coming of age celebrated?
Although age differs depending on countries and cultures, it is generally agreed upon that adulthood begins at 21.
How To Celebrate National Coming Of Age Day
Celebrate with friends and family
Celebrate your entrance into adulthood with your closest friends and family, and you have sweet memories for a lifetime. Mark it with small gifts for each.
Attend organized talks
Navigating adulthood can pose quite a challenge. To mark your special day you can attend talks organized in your area where experiences and life lessons are shared to help equip you better for the future.
Join the trend
Don't be left out, join in on the fun with hashtags on social media to make your day extra special and memorable indeed. Commemorate this day by posting your own coming-of-age story.
5 Awesome Facts About Coming Of Age
Tokyo Disneyland hosts a Coming Of Age party
In 2016, more than a thousand adults attended the Coming of Age ceremony at Tokyo Disneyland.
Some cultures mark the rites through endurance
In Northern Nigeria, the Fulani tribe celebrates their rite of passage through the ability to endure pain while the villagers watch.
The U.S. celebrates sweet 16
In the U.S. the sixteenth birthday is a big deal since they are legally allowed to drive at age 16.
Jewish coming of age
The age at which there is a Bar Mitzvah for Jewish children is 13.
Muslim teens coming of age
Although there is no official ceremony or celebration, after puberty, Muslim teens are considered adults and have the same obligations as adults.
Why We Love Coming Of Age Day
Helps maintain a sense of identity
Tradition and culture give us a sense of identity. With rites of passage observed in Coming of Age ceremonies, values are expressed, fostering continuity.
It teaches accountability
Adulthood ushers in responsibility. Coming of Age ceremonies helps emerging adults understand the fact of life that with every action comes accountability, hence its importance.
It provides a blueprint of life's journey
Adulthood comes with several challenges, but getting a glimpse at someone else's journey and how they were able to overcome helps us navigate these challenges a lot easier. Coming of Age ceremony helps present that opportunity, through the reflection of older people's own experiences, emerging adults can learn.
Coming of Age Day dates