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Festive day awaits new adults

Date Posted: 2002-01-10

Monday is Seijin no Hi (Coming-of-Age Day), which marks the official entry to adulthood for all young Japanese who will have reached the age of majority (20 years) between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of the current year.

Seijin no Hi is based on an ancient Shinto rite of passage known as gempuku, observed between the 7th and 19th centuries, in which young boys adopted adult clothing, hairstyle and names and were deemed eligible to take on grown-up responsibilities, participate in religious functions and take a wife. In samurai circles, the new adult was finally permitted to wear the coveted 徒ammuri・hat worn by his elders. No particular age was dictated for participation in the affair, but a young boy was generally deemed to have reached manhood between the ages of 10 and 16. A similar ceremony, called 杜ogi・(to don a dress), was also held for young women.

The coming-of-age celebrations of today don稚 provide the young adults with headgear or clothes, but they do confer upon them the right to drink, smoke and vote. Declared a national holiday in 1948, Seijin no Hi is a day of celebration for young folks and their families, a day for an official welcome to the adult world extended by municipal officials, for prayers at the local temple or shrine, for parties and revelry. Although the holiday officially falls on the second Monday of every January, most municipalities and new adults will be celebrating it on Sunday, Jan. 13.

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