Bebe Taian: Coming of Age Day - Seijin no Hi!

January 10, 2011

Coming of Age Day - Seijin no Hi!

Do you recall the January 1st post? Well, it's finally here! <3 

Today is 'Seijin no Hi', Coming of Age Day! Everyone who turned 20 between April 1 the year before and March 31 of the current year will have a huge celebration on this day, breaking out their best clothes and spending thousands on ofurisode, obi, getting their hair and nails done, and celebrating with their friends! It is a very happy time. Everyone can smoke, drink, drive, etc. at 20. They are officially recognised as adults on this day. It's awesome.

It seems like everyone is out on the streets on this day- happy mothers, girls who are married wearing nice kimono in bright pastels, men in formal suits, people shopping... And there are so, so many photos being taken of pretty girls in gorgeously decadent ofurisode (and sometimes faux fur shawls). So many. There's just an explosion of wonderfully bright, colourful  photos popping up on various culture websites on the second Tuesday of every month, it's incredible! For me, it's interesting not only because it signals a continued observation of Japanese tradition, but also gives me insight into kimono fashion trends every year.

A kimono, even in it's state of decreased use, is a living garment- it changes and evolves. Could you even conceive wearing shiny mesh fabric with an obiage fifty years ago? But today, it makes an interesting statement fabric which mimics the bright metallic synthetic embroidery of today's fukuro obi. It can be done tastefully and fashionably in the right context. And many of the patterns that were not used twenty years ago are becoming statements now, while traditional patterns are being updated to reflect new tastes. Even some men choose to wear traditional kimono and hakama as opposed to the Western formal attire!

Even though I do not personally care for the "new" synthetic colours being used (as opposed to natural plant dyes), I have to acknowledge that they produce some shades that would otherwise be impossible to wear, and they DO reduce costs of fabric so that people can continue to wear kimono today. Even with all of the cheaper fabrics like rayon and polyester, the synthetic dyes, and the plastics used for faux kinran (metal threads) in obi, kimono can be astronomically expensive. If they became any more prohibitively costly, I think usage of kimono would die out altogether. To see women in kimono every Seijin no Hi is comforting to me because of this reminder- kimono still live, are still wearable, are still appreciated!


  1. I dressed up today! ^^

    Quick question though...where did you read that its for those born April 1 the year before and March 31 of the current year? Everywhere I've looked, I keep getting different dates. Some say that it's based on the school system, others that it's for those who turned 20 the year before, and still others say it's for those turning 20 this current year. I turned 20 last September, so I dressed up this year even if I'm not sure if it technically is my "coming of age". I'd still like to know though.

  2. Wikipedia. ^_^ So, some people at Coming of Age day may not actually be 20 years old- yet. Although, this may be another one of those regional Japanese things, like many of their holidays... exact dates for plenty of festivals seem to vary from area to area. <3