JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.84


Coming-of-age Ceremony

Coming-of-age Ceremony

In Japan, when someone reaches the age of 20 they are considered an adult. The coming-of-age ceremony, a traditional event that celebrates people who newly turned 20 in the previous year, will be held on January 9, 2017.

Coming-of-age day is a special day for celebrating and encouraging youth in their own efforts to live on their own as adults. This day was made a national holiday in 1948. On coming-of-age day, coming-of-age ceremonies are held by municipalities and other levels of government for youth who newly became adults in the previous year. Women wear long-sleeved kimono and men adorn a suit or formal Japanese coat called a haori. During the ceremony, participants listen to celebratory remarks made by the head of the municipality or other government officials.

The coming-of-age ceremony is a type of rite of passage in Japan. Prior to modern times, a ceremony for attaining manhood was held since the Nara period some 1300 years ago. This ceremony marked young men reaching manhood and saw them adorn themselves with a formal hairstyle and dress for the first time. There was also a similar rite of passage for women. Eventually, these ceremonies became the coming-of-age ceremony celebrated today.

Each branch of the SDF holds unique events for personnel who came of age in the previous year. The GSDF organizes coming-of-age events at each camp and sub camp across Japan as well as at locations where personnel are taking part in international peace cooperation activities. The MSDF takes part in a mission to transport personnel and supplies to Showa Station in the Antarctic aboard the icebreaker Shirase when they provide assistance for the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition. Some of the personnel on this mission came of age in the previous year, so a coming-of-age ceremony is held in the Antarctic or on the deck of the Shirase. Personnel who are new adults work hard with a new sense of determination to fulfill their duties around Japan and the world.

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