by: Reiko Nishioka, Director of Education
あけましておめでとうございます。Happy New Year!
成人の日、Seijin no hi is the first national holiday after the New Year celebration in Japan, landing on January 10 this year. With the word seijin meaning adult or a grownup and hi meaning day, it translates as Coming of Age Day. You must be wondering what kind of day this is and why it is a national holiday.
In Japan, when you turn 20, you are legally recognized as an adult. You legally can drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and most importantly you gain the right to vote!!! Since Japanese people traditionally do not celebrate individual birthdays, when the New Year comes, everybody gets one year older. So if you turn 20 during the year, celebrating seijin no hi all together on the second Monday of January is quite a big festival!
Since this is a nationwide celebration, Japanese municipalities formally decorate buildings, such as City Halls, with red and white curtains signifying an auspicious occasion. Young men, mostly in business suits, and women in brightly colored kimonos or dresses gather at their local city hall for their celebration. People who have left their hometown for work or study come home to attend the ceremony and at the same time have their High School reunion. The ceremony consists of many speeches from mayors and other notables as well as numerous performances. It is focused on awareness of what it means to be an adult.
Congratulations are in the order for our readers in Japan who will turn 20 years old this year! I vote for not heavily drinking or smoking, but it is great to have the right to vote!