Hundreds of 20-year-old Japanese people celebrated crossing the threshold into adulthood in Kitakyushu, on the island of Kyushu, on Sunday, despite the pandemic putting a dampener on the typically raucous celebrations.
The young participants could be seen dressed up in embroidered kimonos, formal suits, and playful attire to mark the landmark occasion.
Coming of Age Day, known as Seijin Shiki in Japanese, usually falls on the second Monday of January, with this year’s event honouring those who have reached the age of 20 since April 2, 2020 or who will reach it by April 1, 2021.
The tradition dates back to at least 714CE when a young prince marked his entry into the adult world with a new robe and hairstyle.
As 20 is the age when one can smoke and drink, among other rights and privileges, the festivities have in recent years been marked by outbreaks of mass drunkenness, and sometimes subsequent violence.
One of the participants shared her dreams by saying that “Ten years later, I will fulfil my dream for the future by getting married and having children.”
The status of the celebration is currently confused as the Japanese government lowered the country’s age of adulthood from 20 to 18 in 2018, with the change set to take place in 2022.
From 2022, 18-year-olds will be able to apply for loans and credit cards, and marry without their parents permission, but will still face a two year wait to buy alcohol, smoke, and gamble.
Many of the suppliers of the extravagant kimonos and other formal wear that participants wear are reportedly concerned that they would lose out if people switch to holding ceremonies for 18-year-olds, as they worry that many would skip the festivities entirely as they would fall when many are prepping for university entrance exams.