A Japanese holiday, Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) is marked every year on the second Monday of the month of January. The day is marked as a congratulatory feat for all those who have attained majority age, which in Japan is twenty years, helping them appreciate the fact that they have now become adults. Once twenty years old, Japanese citizens are allowed to vote, drink, and purchase cigarettes.
Some of the festivities of Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) include Seijin-Shiki (coming of age ceremonies) that are held at the local prefectural offices and other public spaces, followed by parties among friends and families. For instance, in Okazaki, the ceremony is held at the Chuo Sogo Park. The participants listen to older generations impart some of their wisdom through speeches that provide advice and explanations of their new roles as adults in society.
The Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) has been celebrated in Japan for centuries. Initially, it was marked on the 15th of January, but in 2000 this was changed to the second Monday of January in accordance with the Happy Monday System. Some adolescents are permitted to participate at age 19 provided their birthday falls before 1st April of that year.
Seijin no Hi is also a photo shooting opportunity. Most male graduates put on suits, while the majority of young women wear the traditional Furisode kimono dress. The latter is a special type of kimono with extended sleeves and comes in various elaborate designs. It is probably the most formal dress an unmarried woman can wear in Japan. The Furisode kimono is an expensive attire that can cost well in excess of ten thousand US dollars.
Coming of Age Day (Sheijin no Hi) reflects increased responsibilities for the Japanese youth. The significance of this holiday has perhaps grown in recent years as the Japanese have been confronted with the problem of an aging population in which not only there is not enough youth to support the retiring citizens, but that youth is also deemed to be less competent and irresponsible compared to older generations.
Kanazawa City, part of the Ishikawa Prefecture, is located approximately 180 miles on the North western side of Tokyo. The city is situated adjacent to the Sea of Japan, bordered by the Japanese Alps, Nato Peninsula and Hakusan National Park. It lies between the Asano and Sai rivers, with a climate similar to that of Tokyo although slighlty rainier.
Kanazawa is well-known as a tourist destination in Japan because visitors get to enjoy a part of the country preserved perfectly as it once was. It is also known as one of the castle towns of Japan. The famous Kanazawa Castle was constructed in 1583 and for many centuries it has been the feudal Maeda Clan headquarters. Today, the castle forms one of the major tourist attraction sites in Kanazawa and in Japan. The castle has been renovated over the years enabling it to regain its grand facade after the various earthquakes and fire damages, while still truthful to the country’s traditional architectural style. In 2001, a major renovation exercise reached completion creating a better and newly looking castle. The current castle which has a double earthen wall stands 17.3 meters above a stone base. It is large enough to serve as a hall and currently serves as a command post. Perhaps the most unique feature about the Kanazawa Castle is its white roofing tiles. The lead-made tiles make the castle remain impervious to damage by fire. In the past they were built so that they could be melted to make bullets in case of an attack.
Another popular attraction in Kanazawa is its landscape garden called Kenrokuen, which used to be the exterior garden of the Kanazawa castle. It is considered one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan – that is saying a lot. Worth a visit.
Reaching Kanazawa is the easiest from Komatsu. There are regular flights from Tokyo to Komatsu from where you can board a bus to Kanazawa, which will take you there in less than 50 minutes. There are also direct buses from Tokyo to Kanazawa (one way trip takes about four hours and costs about 13,000 Yen). By train, you will need to ride the bullet train from Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa Station and transfer there. The city has a myriad of traditional hotels as well as budget guesthouses, all with exceptional Japanese hospitality.