News from Japan - January 10, 2022

Célébration de la majorité, seijin no hi (Coming-of-Age Day)
Coming of Age ceremony in Japan, seijin no hi (成人の日)

This 2nd Monday in January is a public holiday in Japan, in honor of the country's youngsters, who are (or will become) officially adults.

Indeed, on this seijin no hi - literally the day of adults - anyone who celebrates their 20th birthday between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of this year, takes part in the festivities.

i.e. April 2, 2021 ~ April 1, 2022 for this year.

What happens during this celebration? 
Young women wear a kimono or furisode, while men are most often in suits. They all dress and do their hair because they know that many photos will be taken on this special day in Japanese culture.

The day usually begins before noon, with a speech by the city's mayor, who is supposed to educate young Japanese people about the future responsibilities of life. In big cities like Tokyo, there are also shows and concerts to liven up the ceremony.

After the talk is over, the families go to the temple to pray for the future of the young adults. It is after this somewhat poetic part that begins the real reason why young people adore this celebration: partying in bars and nightclubs, which is now authorized for them since they are considered to be of age.

This often gives him scenes of extreme debauchery and disturbances to public order, something rather rare in Japan.

To counter this flip side, it was decided that from April 2022, the age of majority in Japan (to open a bank account, get married, etc.) will be advanced to 18 years old, while the age for drinking alcohol (and smoking) will remain at 20. Let's see howvever if this will be really respected by the establishments welcoming these festivities ...

 

Festival du feu au temple shinto de KatsubeFire festival at Katsube Shrine, in Moriyama

Like every year, on the 2nd Saturday of January, the Katsube Fire Festival took place. This celebration has a history of almost 800 years, and the purpose of which is to pray for good health and to avoid disease. During this festival, men dressed in loincloths set fire to 12 large snake-shaped torches, measuring 5 meters long and weighing 400 kg each. The flames then reach more than 10 meters in height, which creates an impressive spectacle.

Due to its history, the festival has been named as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shiga Prefecture.

But where does this festivity come from? About 800 years ago, an emperor was sick because of a dragon, according to a divine. The Japanese therefore killed and burned this dragon, then danced around the flaming body of the beast. Soon after, the emperor recovered from his illness.

 

1st Sumo Tournament of the Year at Ryōgoku Kokugikan
Picture taken during the 1st sumo tournament of the year, in Ryōgoku Kokugikan

In the traditional first sumo tournament of the year, Terunofuji Haruo, a naturalized Japanese Mongolian, will try to break a 103-year-old record. His objective is therefore to win a 3rd consecutive tournament after his promotion to the maximum rank of Yokozuna. The latter is the 73rd sumo wrestler to be promoted to this rank, and the 5th Mongolian since 1990.

The Yokozuna is the highest rank a sumo wrestler can achieve. Once promoted, Yokozuna can no longer lose their title. However, if these results are not worthy of his rank, he is expected to retire on his own. True Japanese honor.


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