January 15, also known as Coming of Age Day or Adult Day, is the day when 20 year-old Japanese men and women celebrate their official coming of age by participating in a ceremony at their local ward office or city hall. (Seijin-Shiki) They also visit shrines to pray for good lives, careers and marriages.
You will notice many young women in traditional Japanese (or western) dress walking around the town. The long flowing sleeves of their kimonos (nearly calf-length vs. thigh length for married women) signify that they are young and single as do the different and more elaborate knots of the obi. Colored collars, in contrast to the white most often seen, add a touch of gaiety. The kimonos are extremely expensive as are the matching accessories.
Getting ready takes a long time, often involving a visit to the hairdresser for assistance in doing up hair and putting on the kimono and obi. Many young people also visit the photographer this day for an official portrait (they are often teased that the photos will later be used by a matchmaker).
Barbara Kirkwood and Teresa K. Negley