Coming of age in Japan
As one of my very helpful students pointed out yesterday, not only was it a national holiday (so most people had a day off work) but it was Seijin Shiki 成人式 ,(the coming of age ceremony held every January in Japan).
The age of majority n Japan is 20. The seijin shiki covers all those who will reach this age during the current school year, which runs between April 2009 and the following March. The ceremony is generally held in the morning at local city offices and all young adults who maintain residency in the area are invited to attend. Government officials give speeches, and small presents are handed out to the new adults.
Many women celebrate this day by wearing a furisode (a type of kimono with long sleeves that drape down). Since most are unable to put on a kimono by themselves due to the intricacies involved in putting one on, many choose to visit a beauty salon to dress and to set their hair. A full set of formal clothing is expensive, so it is usually either inherited or rented rather than being bought specially for the occasion. Men sometimes also wear traditional dress (dark kimono with hakama).
After the ceremony, the young adults often gather in groups and go to parties or go out drinking. Young women not used to wearing the zori slippers can often be seen limping as the afternoon wears on and evening approaches. Later in the evening, it is not unusual to see wobbly young adults staggering in the trains, heading home after a day of celebration.
So cute in their kimonos huh :)