Will COVID-19 dampen Japan’s most flamboyant celebration?

The second Monday of every year is known as Coming of Age Day in Japan, which honors the citizens who have reached the age of 20 during the previous fiscal year. This day usually involves the young adults gathering at a local venue for an official ceremony.

▼ Typical Coming of Age Day revelers

It’s exactly the kind of event that people have been trying to avoid holding for the past year, so organizers are looking for safer alternatives which will still give these people their once-in-a-lifetime event. Reducing scale, postponement, and online ceremonies have been declared by various municipalities.

In the case of Japan’s most ostentatious Coming of Age Day ceremony, held in Kitakyushu city, they have decided to divide the ceremony into two separate gatherings to keep numbers down. One will be held in the morning and one in the afternoon.

▼ Kitakyushu Coming of Age Day revelers

However, that still amounts to a lot of people in the same place at the same time, so a lot of new adults may decide to stay home on that day. To find out more, our Kitakyushu Coming of Age Day expert Masanuki Sunakoma visited the flashy kimono specialists at Miyabi.

Miyabi is well-known in the area for providing total support in selecting and putting on many of the elaborate outfits seen in past years. Not only that, they are also well-skilled in putting people in more conservative kimonos and gowns as well.

▼ Masanuki got the full Miyabi treatment himself three years ago

When asked how things were looking in 2021, we learned that from January to March of 2020 it was business as usual. However, once the state of emergency was declared last April there was a drastic decrease in orders, to about half of the previous year.

Masanuki was then taken to the changing room. In a normal year, there would be about 20 people at a time in this room on Coming of Age Day getting their gilded, fur-trimmer kimonos set up. This year, however, in order to comply with the Three C’s, only nine customers can be handled at a time and are spread out in three separate locations.

Some of the kimonos ordered for this year were out on display too. One had the name “Chojiro” printed along the long draping sleeves in large golden patches, both standing out from and complementing the intricate gold design of the kimono with an extra-wide black-frilled collar and large halo-like lace ring jutting out the top.

Usually custom names would be put on a flag or folding fan more cheaply, but it looked like Chojiro was sparing no expense for this special day.

Next to it was an “angel wing” design. Normally this might represent the child “leaving the nest” as an adult, but this year the wings are also functional as an effective social distancing tool.

It looks like at least some young adults are willing to still go out on Coming of Age Day in Kitakyushu. Hopefully they can do so safely, as the morning-afternoon plan doesn’t sound especially effective by itself. Masanuki will be there too, documenting the event as he always does, but this time from a safe distance we hope.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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