Smart & Cheap Japan Travel

When the Japanese Become Adults: Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi)

September 24, 2011
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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.

Japan’s New Old Society

August 11, 2010
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We all hope to spend our retirement years living a peaceful and content life with our family, traveling places and enjoying everything we’ve been missing while staring at glaring computer monitors, monotonously typing and filing away our best years at the desks of our puny cubicles.

In Japanese culture, much respect is given to the elderly. Japan’s astonishingly high aging rate and life expectancy, however, is making it more and more difficult to sustain this social norm. In this country, the average life expectancy for women is 86 and 79 for men. With an estimated population of about 127 million people, more than 20% are above 65 years of age, and surprisingly only 14% are under the age of 15 years.

The first question that pops into mind is: What are they eating? Their healthy lifestyle (or just good genes), however, poses problems that require more than just short term solutions. There are more and more elderly people on the waiting list to the facilities, medical care, and nursing they are entitled to. There are more and more retirees that have to take care of their own parents, rather than being taken care of themselves. Their problems highlight the lack of government run medical and elderly daycare center facilities in Japan – a crisis brought on by the increasingly aging society and the apparent inability of the government to cope with the growing demand, or with any strategic issues in Japan in general for that matter. It has been a while since a Japanese prime minister succeeded in staying in office for a full term.

The present scenario has left people concerned about the economic and social consequences like increasing pension and health care expenses, reduced savings and investment rates and decline in workforce. All these factors have resulted in a new debate on immigration policies in Japan, as well as newly designed incentives for Japanese families to bring more children into the world. Japan must now redesign current structures to meet the challenges of the new, old society. The upside is that it should get easier to acquire a work visa…

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    About the Author

    Born in Tokyo. Lived, worked, and traveled in Japan for over a decade combined. Author of the book, "All-You-Can Japan: Getting the Most Bang for Your Yen" -

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