For some young adults in Japan, Coming of Age Day is a somewhat solemn or drab affair, but in Kita-Kyushu it is anything but.
The second Monday in January is known as Seijin No Hi or Coming of Age Day in Japan. This is a day when local governments hold a ceremony to celebrate everyone who had turned 20 in the previous year and welcome them into adulthood.
Of course local governments aren’t known for their ability to throw a great party, so oftentimes it’ll just be some local assemblyman or amateur Batman giving a speech and handing out commemorative pens.
However, some pockets of the country have managed to make Coming of Age Day something to remember. One of the more famous of these places is probably Kita-Kyushu in Fukuoaka Prefecture where you would see something like this.
Scenes from these colorful ceremonies often make the rounds online with a mixed response. Some applaud the creativity and enthusiasm of these young men and women. Others lament them as symbols of the degradation of Japanese society.
Much of the criticism comes from the way the costumes highlight symbols and fashions of “yankee” (hoodlum) culture in Japan such as punch-perms (short hair with tight curls), mullets, pompadour hairstyles, or gold print on black clothing.
Yankees are notoriously easy to provoke and are known to pop someone in the face for looking at them sideways. For that reason we had been too scared to go down to Kita-Kyushu and document this event until now.
However, our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma came down with a terminal case of ingrown toenails, so with nothing to lose he threw caution to the wind and ventured down to confront these flocks of flamboyant yankees.
Outside the Media Dome in Kita-Kyushu, Masanuki found himself in an ocean of vibrant colors from orange to purple. Many young adults were carrying flags or paper fans with their region’s name printed on them. Also, occasionally a whistle would blow causing groups of the men and women to shout out the name of their community.
This demonstration of civic pride was touching for Masanuki who suddenly found himself emboldened enough to start asking them for pictures.
Much to his surprise they didn’t try to beat him up and steal his pants. On the contrary, they cheerfully obliged and eagerly struck poses for our intrepid photo-journalist.
While some may sneer at their flamboyant clothing which celebrates certain anti-social behaviors, Masanuki could see first-hand what Coming of Age Day in Kita-Kyushu was all about. These men and women realized that you only become an adult once in your life, so you might as well make the most of it, even if that means five inch Hello Kitty nails that weigh half a pound or so.
[ Read in Japanese ]