Coming of Age Day (成人の日 or Seijin no Hi) is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have turned 20 years old over the past year and to help them realize that they have become adults. They now have responsibilities as well as newfound liberties: such as being able to drink, smoke, go to hostess bars, gamble and to drive legally.
Festivities include coming of age ceremonies (成人式 seijin-shiki) held at local and prefectural offices, as well as after-parties among family and friends.
Coming of age ceremonies have been celebrated in Japan since at least AD 714 when a young prince donned new robes and a hairstyle to mark his passage into adulthood.
The girls always wear gorgeous and very expensive kimono, but most are actually rented as the complete outfit can easily be worth up to 1,000,000 yen or not far from US$10,000. The boys usually wear a regular suit and tie but a few will wear traditional Japanese dress.
The ceremony takes place in every city ward around Japan; in Kyoto, it was held at the Miyako Messe and I took advantage of the assembly of all these young people around the Rohm Theater, the park around as well as the nearby Heian Jingu Shrine. Most of these young girls have incredibly sophisticated hairdo and makeup — a few boys also did.