Seijinshiki: Coming of Age Ceremony in Japan (成人式)

Photo by Brittany Butters

 

Seijinshiki was probably one of the most interesting events I went to when I lived in Japan. Phonetically written, seijinshiki (成人式) is an annual coming-of-age ceremony in Japan that takes place sometime around January. Those who have turned 20 years old in the past year receive an invitation to attend. The start of the new year is a little different in Japan. So as long as you turn 20 between April 2 (current year) to April 1 (next year) you can attend if you sign up through your city hall. 

 

Why is turning 20 years old a big deal?  In Japan turning twenty isn't just another birthday.  Once you have turned 20 you can drink, smoke, gamble, go to host/hostess clubs, vote, go to jail and drive legally.  So yes, this is like America's equivalent to turning 16/18/21 all in one.... Kindddd of a big deal.

 

What do they wear?  Traditional wear or not, just about everyone looked great!  I was surprised to see so many interesting looking people. Some people you could clearly tell were being a little rebellious, which is quite amusing because you don't see that very often in Hiroshima or Japan in general.  This is because during college there are no restrictions on hair color, hairstyle, dress code, piercings etc.  So during seijinshiki you see all types of hairstyles and clothing.  Hair for most girls is a fancy up-do with some sort of ornament.  Their outfits were kimonos with a fur scarf.  Men's styles varied drastically, from traditional to business wear, you could find just about anything.  I specifically liked the ceremony because of all the traditional style clothing though, which can be extremely pricey.  Just to give you an idea kimonos can cost around 1,000,000¥ (~$10,000) or more.  So like you might think, not everyone has that kind of money laying around and some rent their outfits.

 

What happens at the ceremony?  During the main ceremony, which may vary depending on prefecture/city, but Hiroshima's started with a dance performance.  Then after the dance performance there were speeches made by several people.  After that you are free to go.  Once all the talking was over everyone headed outside.  This is the time where lots of friends catch up with one another and take pictures.  However, as a foreigner, this meant... Picture time!!!!  Once all of the chitchat is over most people leave and go out drinking with friends to celebrate.  I mean after all they are legal now!

 

Below are some pictures to give you an idea what it was like!

Photo by Brittany Butters

Photo by Brittany Butters

Photo by Brittany Butters

Photo by Brittany Butters

Photo by Brittany Butters

Photo by Brittany Butters

Photo by Alix Romero-Turpin

 If you have any questions or comments, you know what to do... 


-Butters

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