Sunday, January 09, 2005

Coming-of-age Day

Tomorrow is "Coming-of-Age Day." It used to be on January 15th, but it has been changed to the second Monday of January for several years. Tomorrow, or maybe today, each local government holds a ceremony for those who have come of age.

You are socially accepted as a grownup when you are 20. You are legally allowed to drink, smoke, bet on horses (although everyone starts drinking and smoking much earlier, of course!). Your real name will be on newspapers if you commit a crime. Some people say, and I agree, that one should be regarded as a grownup a little earlier, say, 18 years old, because at that age people start working, or studying at college, and their smoking or drinking is completely accepted in the society, apart from the law.

Still, Japanese 20-year-old people are sometimes a little too childish. It has often been reported that some of them cause troubles at Coming-of-age celemonies that are held by local governments. For example, I hear about young people who behave very badly during a ceremony. Some talk loudly or make noises while their mayor is making a celebrating speech. Others drink too much before or during the ceremony and sometimes start fighting with each other. The ceremony is held in order to encourage them to feel responsible for themselves, but we sometimes learn from what it is like that there are so many irresponsible young people.

If you are a daughter's father or mother, it will cost you more. On the day of the ceremony almost every girl wears kimonos. A kimono costs you hundreds of thousands of yen, equal to thousands of US dollars. What's more, this type of kimono, which has broad sleeves, is worn only by an unmarried woman. And Japanese women do not usually wear them; they wears kimonos only on some special occasions, say, once in a year. That means they are only worn several times in life, unless they stay unmarried for long!

If your daughter is considerate, she will tell you that you don't have to buy an expensive kimono because she can rent one. But what really happens in Japanese families may be that the daughter insist on buying one, while her parents try to persuade her to rent one.