Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Kimono Girls on Japan’s Coming of Age Day – a Dying Tradition?

Japan’s Coming of Age Day
Kimono-Clad Girls a dying tradition?

Kimono-Clad Girls at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo on Coming of Age Day
D.Weber
D.Weber

It was the second Monday of January and once again Japan’s new adults were out and about enjoying their new-found adulthood on the national holiday of Seijin-no-Hi: Coming of Age Day. Many young women sported their decorative kimono with the long-sleeves called furisode. While most young men wore suits, there were a few here and there that wore the formal male kimono known as a hakama.

Japan especially likes marking the ages of its populace and Seijin-no-Hi is no exception. In November, the little ones are all decked out in pretty kimono. Girls ages 3 and 7 and boys aged 5 are honored every year on the Shinto holiday, Shichi-Go-San. Another national holiday is Keiro-no-Hi in September which is respect for elders day.

As for Seijin-no-Hi, the national holiday is only a little over half-a-century old having started in 1948. Now the focus is mainly on the young women in their stunning kimono while the boys get second billing. In the past, however, the emphasis was on the boys. Young men had two coming of age celebrations in which they would change their names. At 12 and 16 they would individually go through their own private special ceremonies. For samurai households, this was a big deal with much pomp and ceremony.

As I usually do every Seijin-no-Hi, I went to Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine which serves as a magnet for kimono-clad girls and avid photographers. Meiji Shrine’s courtyard was packed with people. Disappointingly most of them were visitors and photo-hunting photographers. Occasionally, the dull visage of the monotonous fashion of the throng would be broken up with the arrival of brilliantly colored kimono-clad girls either alone or in small groups. A declining population, rising kimono prices, and a growing disinterest in traditional culture has led to fewer sightings of Seijin-no-Hi’s main attraction.

D.Weber

The price of kimono has risen sharply over the years especially handmade ones. A number of the furisode kimono worn on Seijin-no-Hi are family hand-me-downs, rented, or pre-made from China. The overall cost can be quite staggering. A full-fledged new furisode can be as much as $10,000. And the accompanying beauty make-over with hair styling can run up to a thousand dollars. The appointments have be made months in advance.

Kimono-Clad Girls become celebrities for one day
D.Weber

Why all the hassle and expense?

D.Weber

“For the parents it is their desire. From the day a girl is born they have the desire to dress her in furisode when she becomes 20 in the seijin shiki, take her picture, and send it to relatives as custom requires. In some cases, the mother herself also wore a furisode she received from her mother in her seijin shiki…

D.Weber

“If they have the possibility of dressing their daughter in a Y1,000,000 kimono it is proof that they have worked hard all their lives and can afford it. It is the result of their life work…But the girls do not always understand their parents’ feelings and they say they would prefer a car.”

(from A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan – Fashioning Cultural Identity: Body and Dress by Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni)

Kimono-Clad Girls entering Meiji Shrine
D.Weber

A growing percentage of young women are opting for evening gowns which while still expensive are far less expensive than the furisode and more practical.

D.Weber

At Meiji Shrine, two girls attracted their fair share of attention by their bold mixing of traditional fashion with modern goth chic. For footwear, they eschewed the normal sandals and tabi socks for trendy boots. One of them sported a red heart shaped bag while the other had a death’s head dangling from hers. One of them had braided hair and the other’s hair was short with a streak of red running through it.

A bold mixture of modern and traditional
D.Weber

In this reporter’s humble opinion, I hope that the tradition of wearing the furisode kimono continues. Evening gowns are a dime a dozen throughout the world but the wearing of the furisode kimono is a unique Japanese phenomenon.

D.Weber
Hopefully not the last of the Coming of Age Kimono-Clad girls

Advertisements

January 21, 2008 - Posted by | Blogroll, Coming of Age Day, culture, event, furisode, japan, kimono, life, Meiji, meiji shrine, photographs, seijin-no-hi, tokyo, tradition, traditional art, travel

7 Comments »

  1. […] Seijin-no-Hi 2008: Kimono Girls Dying Tradition? Tags: japan, kimono, culture, photographs, tokyo, Tag Index « Hello world traveller! | Home | Sumo Action set to Heavy Metal » […]

    Pingback by Seijin-no-Hi: Japan’s Coming of Age Day Kimono Girl Montage Vid » TravelBlog Archive » Roving Ronin Report | January 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. this has great info! could you please add more info on where its held and if it has any special words or symbols thanx

    Comment by Julez | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. Julez, it takes place all over Japan on the second Monday in January. These shots were all taken at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.

    Comment by samuraidave | April 18, 2008 | Reply

  4. thanx thats useful info
    julez xoxox

    Comment by Julez | April 20, 2008 | Reply

  5. […] Kimono Clad Girls a Dying Tradition? Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Japan’s Coming of Age Day 2008 Seijin-no-HiJapan’s 20 Year Old Girls’ Seijin-No-Hi Celebration & Furisode KimonosShichi Go SanLucky Star 13, New Years, Coming of Age, and Valentine’s Day […]

    Pingback by KKK – Kimono Klad Kuties: Japan’s Coming of Age Day « Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report | January 5, 2010 | Reply

  6. It is a big event in these Japanese gals life. They all dress up as a symbol they are now accepted in society as an adult women.
    I hope they keep the tradition to maintain a strong culture ID.

    Comment by freedomwv | January 12, 2010 | Reply

  7. It looks gorgeous! If I were a Japanese girl I `d be delighted to wear something like that.
    I wouldn`t choose the car. They looks so great and unique…
    I wish we would have such a beautiful custom at home.

    Comment by Tina | January 8, 2012 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: