One of the things that the Japanese almost have right is the idea of celebrating adulthood. Unfortunately, the way they do it is often the wrong idea.
This past Monday was Coming of Age Day, a national holiday where all the people who turned 20 the year before get to officially celebrate their coming of age. For those who may not know, age 20 is the age where “everything” is legal. Specifically this means 20 year olds can legally drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. (They’ve been of legal age to star in porn movies, though, since age 18. Go figure.)
Traditionally, on Coming of Age day, women dress up in expensive kimono and get their hair done whilst the men get a choice of suits or male kimono. They then go to shrines for various ceremonies and, if they are lucky, they escape and go drinking as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, it’s also a tradition that towns hold their own coming of age ceremonies which usually involve dozens of drunk men and women in kimono assembling in a bland auditorium to listen to speeches about the responsibilities of adulthood.
This is where I think the Japanese go wrong. Although I like the idea of a day that celebrates you officially being an adult (perhaps without frisking) I don’t like the idea of the newly minted adults being lectured to like children about being an adult. Having gotten in trouble during a long speech when I was sober, I shudder to think what I would have done if I was drunk.
Actually, it would probably look like an incident several years ago, when several men rebelled by making lots of noise, running up to the podium to take proto-selfies (which used to be called “photographs”) with the mayor and, in one case, fire poppers full of confetti at him. Several of the men were then introduced to concepts like “arrest” and “jail time”. (Yeah, technically that’s more my speed I’m afraid.)
The funny part of all this is, I hated being age 20. I still can’t get my head around the idea of celebrating it.