School starts off great, with today being a national holiday, the coming of age day (or Seijin no hi). In Japan you officialy become an adult at the age of 20. After turning 20 Japanese people are allowed to smoke and drink alcohol and they gain the right to vote. This shift from child to adult is widely celebrated on the coming of age day, held on the second Monday of January.

Everyone who turned or turns 20 between April 2 of last year and April 1 of this year can attend a Seijin Shiki ceremony. While boys usualy wear a normal buisiness suit, girls wear a beautiful traditional furisode (kimono with long sleeves hanging down). A furisode is quite expensive, so many girls rent it for the day instead of buying one. Sometimes a furisode is owned by a family and passed down the generations.

I visited some furisode pop-up stores, where you can easily spent over 100 euro on just the hair accessory. A catalog tells me (as far as I can understand) that the cheapest furisode to buy costs around 1600 euro and they go up to around 4800 euro.

Today I went to the Meiji Shrine to experience part of the celebrations. The area was crowded with people and the new adults were surrounded by hordes of people with cameras. The actual ceremony was held behind closed doors and unfortunately even my friendliest smile couldn’t get me inside to take a picture. But there was plenty of opportunity to take pictures of the beautifully dressed girls before and after the ceremony.

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Mayu (19):

“My birthday is on Februari 1 so I’m still nineteen. This is not a rental furisode, I got it as a present from my family. I really like it, blue is my favourite color.”

Although the furisode were beautiful, I particularly found the hair accesories intriguing. They come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. Here’s a small selection of what I’ve seen today: