Hair today, hungover tomorrow as young Japanese come of age

A day that involves formal ceremonies to mark Japan's national Coming of Age day often ends in drinking for the country's 20-year-olds AFP

TOKYO —

Draped in dazzling kimonos, thousands of expensively dressed young Japanese marked their entry into adulthood on Monday—with many planning a night on the booze to celebrate.

Formal Coming-of-Age ceremonies, which began as a rite of ancient samurai families, were held nationwide for Japan’s 20-year-olds, reminding them of their responsibilities after becoming old enough to legally drink and smoke.

As they fidgeted with mobile phones and stifled yawns during the speeches, the contrast in financial outlay between the sexes was obvious, with most males opting for the kind of plain business suit they will wear as future “salarymen”.

“I’m happy I can finally drink alcohol and go clubbing,” college student Rumiko Matsumoto told AFP while getting a 10,000 yen manicure in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district ahead of the ceremony. “When my nails are dry, I have to get my eyelash extensions done, do my hair and get fitted for my kimono.”

“I’m very nervous,” she added. “It’s a special day, the first step towards being an adult. My parents told me I have to take responsibility for my own actions now. But first I want to celebrate by going drinking.”

As more than 4,000 gathered at Tokyo’s Toshima-en amusement park on Monday, the fog of hairspray used to fix exquisitely coiffured perms hung in the cold air as young women queued for a rollercoaster ride.

Some women make appointments a year in advance to have their hair and make-up done and beauty salons often stay open all night to meet the rush for styling.

Many pay over 120,000 yen for their glittery “furisode” kimonos, with beauty treatments such as elaborate nail decorations often costing tens of thousands of yen more.

“I did think ‘yikes, I’m an adult’ when I turned 20,” said sales assistant Reiko Nakamura as a beautician fussed over her synthetic lashes.

“I have to think about my future so it’s a little scary,” she added, admiring her dagger-sharp Hello Kitty nails. “For now I just want to enjoy a night out drinking with friends I haven’t seen since primary school.”

Celebrated on the second Monday of the year from snow-swept northern Japan to the subtropical south, Coming-of-Age Day includes those who turned 20 over the previous year or will do so before March 31 this year.

The age a young person entered adulthood was set at 20 for both genders in 1876.

Crowds of kimono-clad ladies and suited young men offered prayers at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine over the holiday weekend, while thousands more flocked to Tokyo Disneyland and posed for photos with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

In Japan’s disaster-hit northwest, however, ceremonies were tinged with sadness as young people remembered classmates who perished in the 2011 tsunami.

There were an estimated 1.21 million new adults as of January 1—a decrease of some 50,000 from last year and half the 1970 peak of 2.46 million, according to government figures, mirroring the country’s shrinking population.

Japan’s annual birth rate recently dipped below one million for the first time in over 100 years, reflecting its rapidly ageing society.

But a population crisis was the last thing on Riki Hayashi’s mind after a ceremony in Tokyo.

“The speeches went on for ages,” he said. “We will all be getting drunk tonight.”

© 2017 AFP

  • 5

    Yubaru

    “I’m very nervous,” she added. “It’s a special day, the first step towards being an adult. My parents told me I have to take responsibility for my own actions now. But first I want to celebrate by going drinking.”

    If drinking and smoking are what being an adult is for these folks Japan's future is not too bright.

  • 9

    spinningplates

    @ Yubaru Wait...you mean there's more?

  • 10

    clamenza

    If drinking and smoking are what being an adult is for these folks Japan's future is not too bright.

    And I thought I was a curmudgeon. Young adults across the planet have the same feelings when they hit drinking age.

  • -8

    kurisupisu

    I had my first hangover at 11,what is the fuss about?

  • 12

    Tony Alderman

    A large number of the girls have already been working in hostess bars and drinking booze for the last couple of years...!

  • 23

    clamenza

    I had my first hangover at 11,what is the fuss about?

    Everyone, kurisupisu would like you to know, despite it having nothing to do with the thread, that he had a hangover at 11 years of age. Apparently this makes him a "Hip cat" and anyone who didn't have a similar experience to be a "turkey" or "square".

    Once again, let's all take a minute to reflect on kurisupisu being drunk, then hungover, at 11 years of age.

  • 9

    bones

    Well from what I have seen in my time here,turning 20 makes you an adult but your not grown up until you're in your late 40's and decide to leave the nest!!!

  • 1

    FightingViking

    Our parents gave us a few drops of wine in a big glass of water when we were just into our teens - this is probably what made us so strong for alcohol later on. Suddenly "drowning" in alcohol because one has just turned twenty is recipe for disaster.

  • 6

    Mlodinow

    So they've become "adults" but still have to be sternly talked to by some retirement age know-it-all at a boring ceremony. Not sure why such speeches can't instead be inspirational or uplifting. I'm not from the USA but their universities practice of inviting business leaders or other actual inspirational people to speak at graduation and try to inspire the students (here, adults) seems infinitely more appropriate and meaningful.

  • 6

    Pukey2

    Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty, fags and booze. Hurray, everyone's an adult now.

  • 5

    buchailldana

    some poor cat hammered in the tabehodai/Nomihodai place I went last night puking all over himsel.His parents had to come pick him up and get him ready for the ceremony the next day.Ah the folly of youth

  • 4

    Jandworld

    Vote at 18 years old even before you can drink and smoke?

  • 1

    Shingollira

    Welcome to the life of freedom with responsibility.

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    Congrats to all these young men and women! Enjoy your night. Make us proud in the days to come.

  • 0

    wtfjapan

    Once again, let's all take a minute to reflect on Kurisupisu being drunk, then hungover, at 11 years of age. the more I see people drunk and the problems it causes, the more I can honestly say Im proud "Ive never been drunk in my life" Yes ive drunk on a few occasions and coming from a family of drinkers it sounds very surprising that I've never been drunk. I actually pity people who feel need to get high on drugs or alcohol to bring some sort of escape or ecstasy in their lives. No I don't pity people who drink just those that can't drink in moderation, And no Im not a Muslim or am I in a religion that forbids alcohol. Ive just got the will power to say no against peer pressure. The only drug I can truly say I may have a slight addiction is coffee/ caffine. LOL

  • 6

    Nippori Nick

    People spend 10,000 on a manicure? Glad my wife does not get them done then.

  • 1

    Jandworld

    Would you become more knowlegeable, well do you know what happens next door? Well country? Well continent? Ahh globe?

  • 0

    Petr Stejskal

    So young and naive :) Have good one!

  • 1

    Akula

    Good to see a few of these kids out on the town having a few drinks. Great fun.

  • 0

    canigetawhatwhat

    @wtfjapan congratulations. Who cares

  • 3

    Yubaru

    The coming of age ceremony used to be held in Naha at the city gym, that because a HUGE cluster-fruck as the "new" adult Yankee's caused huge disturbances during the ceremonies and acted out as fools afterwards, causing the city much embarrassment. (Always bugged me that the local news broadcasts would mosaic out the faces of these "adults" to protect their identity, when if it was someone in their 30's doing the same thing there wouldn't be any covering of identities.)

    Anyway, now the ceremonies are held at individual JHS's and still there are problems.

    Having a drink, smoking, whatever, fine, enjoy yourselves, I congratulate you. But becoming an adult is a hell of a lot more than just that, and I am quite sure that it will take at least a decade or more for some of them to finally realize that, if they are lucky!

  • 0

    since1981

    First: January 9 (10) does not make you an adult and of legal age to drink and smoke. Your 20th birthday does. Second: To all the kids out there that are stating "I can finally go out clubbing and drinking", we parents are not stupid. Though laws in Japan don't 'PERMIT' you to drink and smoke before your 20th birthday, the way the laws are enforced, allow you to do so. and we parents know you do it. So get off your high horse, move out of your parent's house or pay room and board, cook your own meals, clean your own room, and wash your own clothes and work on paying back the millions your parents slaved for for your education. Welcome to a real responsible adult life.

  • 1

    MsDelicious

    Yeah thousands more legally steaming smoke in your face at every restaurant in Japan.

  • 1

    Matthew Simon

    Celebrate entry into adulthood by acting like children.

  • 1

    Aly Rustom

    The age a young person entered adulthood was set at 20 for both genders in 1876.

    That says it all right there

    There were an estimated 1.21 million new adults as of January 1—a decrease of some 50,000 from last year and half the 1970 peak of 2.46 million, according to government figures, mirroring the country’s shrinking population.

    That's it? It seems to me that the population decline is accelerating exponentially.

    Japan’s annual birth rate recently dipped below one million for the first time in over 100 years, reflecting its rapidly ageing society.

    dipped below 1 mil?? Celebrations aside, this is really terrifying.

  • -1

    Ron Barnes

    Now its over Hay Kids Hows the Hangovers I hope their is a lot of banging and loud noise around your places

  • 0

    HaiDesu

    kurisupisuJAN. 09, 2017 - 06:15PM JST I had my first hangover at 11,what is the fuss about?

    You were also poorly parented. I fuss about your parents.

  • 0

    Scrote

    All these new adults can now enjoy paying pension premiums too!

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