What can you do when you become 20 years old in Japan?
The meaning of being an adult in Japan
When a person reaches 20 years of age, they are considered to be an adult in Japan. Drinking alcohol is permitted from this age and you can enjoy a greater degree of freedom. On one hand, you become a full citizen and are given the right to vote, but at the same time, you also have new responsibilities as an adult, such as having to enroll in a pension plan and other duties.
People celebrate the adulthood of those reaching 20 on what is known as seijinnohi, or coming-of-age day. This celebration used to be held on January 15th, but it was moved to the second Monday of January in the year 2000.
Coming-of-age ceremony in Japan
Each town and city has its own ceremony. The “new adults” go back to their hometown to attend the ceremony, so it is a good opportunity for them to catch up with old friends. Many women wear furisode, colorful, long-sleeved kimono, and have their hair dressed in a formal up-style, while some men also wear kimono with hakama. Some of the “new adults” take the opportunity to start drinking and messing around at the ceremony, displaying immature behavior. What are coming-of-age ceremonies like in other parts of the world?
成人式は祝いではなく試練の日という土地もある!? The ceremony is not a celebration but a day of challenge in some places.
In Japan, Coming-of-Age Day is a celebration, but it is a day of challenge in some countries. There are global differences in the age at which one is regarded as an adult. In the Masai tribe, for example, the new adults go hunting by themselves and hunt a lion. Bungee jumping from 30 meters high is customary in Vanuatu. And some tribes cover the participants in cow dung... Indeed, it can be a tough ordeal to endure, but you will be acknowledged as an adult after successfully completing the trial. When we consider these customs, it is difficult to feel comfortable about those who fail to approach the Japanese ceremony with the sobriety it deserves.
カナダ・オーストラリアに留学ののち、ボストン大学コミュニケーション学部修士課程ジャーナリズム専攻、東北大学博士前期課程人間社会情報科学専攻修了。通信社の国際金融情報部、出版社にて国内・海外の取材記事や交渉ほかを担当。海外通販会社の役員を経て、諸媒体の翻訳・執筆・プロデュース などを手がける。 著書に『コトバのギフト～輝く女性の１００名言』（講談社）、『スティーブ・ジョブズに学ぶ英語プレゼン』（日経BP社）ほか多数。仕事と趣味で旅した国は50カ国を超える。