You may wonder why every teenager in town is walking in the same direction wearing a traditional kimono or a suit. In fact, they do so because today is Seijin no hi (Coming of Age Day) and they are no longer teenagers! They are officially seijin (adults) now, with the right to vote, drink and smoke.
Seijin no hi is on the second Monday of January every year, and those who have reached hatachi (20 years old) attend ceremonies at local and prefectural offices, and party afterwards to mark the beginning of adulthood.
The event originated in the Edo period (1603 ~ 1868) when boys groomed their hair in a new style, and girls dyed their teeth black. There wasn’t a formal age they celebrated, but it was determined by one’s actions or ability in the workforce. In the Meiji period, boys were given compulsory military duty, which meant they had to pass an examination – this eventually became to be known as the Coming of Age ceremony.