Despite impact of COVID-19, adulthood ceremonies take place in Japan

Across the country, an estimated 1.2 million young people celebrated their coming of age on Monday as Adulthood Day in an annual rite of passage for 20-year-olds that was directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many coming-of-age ceremonies have been canceled or hosted online, tens of thousands of young men and women dressed in fancy costumes and fashionable kimonos, the attire traditionally worn for the ceremony. adulthood, gathered in Yokohama on the occasion of a lifetime celebration.

This year, Yokohama hosted an event for more than 36,000 new adults, the largest number of any municipality in the country. The city provided those who had not received a COVID-19 vaccination in advance with an antigen test kit and asked them to take the test on Sunday or Monday morning before attending the celebration.

The event was held at the Yokohama Arena at four different times to help prevent the spread of infections. The city also broadcast the event live on its website.

“We want to do everything we can to help people participate easily,” said a Yokohama official.

The annual event would have been celebrated in normal years in style with childhood gatherings and all-night after-parties, but attendees were required to wear masks to attend and encouraged by organizers to resist the temptation. before and after the ceremony to mingle with friends, have a drink or organize parties.

New adults attend the Adulthood Day ceremony at Tokyo Disney Sea in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture on Monday. | KYODO

“In a situation like this, I appreciate that they were able to organize the event,” a kimono-clad woman who attended the event in Yokohama told Nippon Television Network.

“I will enjoy the celebration while taking appropriate anti-infective measures,” said another woman in a kimono.

In the days leading up to the event, major cities and prefectures saw a sharp increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19, driven by the spread of the highly contagious variant of omicron, which is rapidly replacing the delta variant. as the dominant source of infections. . The country recorded 8,249 new cases on Sunday, marking the second day in a row it has surpassed the 8,000 mark, as some prefectures like Hiroshima and Okinawa recently recorded a new record of cases.

In Tokyo, where all 23 central wards except Suginami canceled the Adulthood Day ceremonies last year, most wards have decided this year to host the events, but not at the same time.

Shinjuku Ward, however, canceled the ceremony but prepared an area at a hotel where new adults could take photos with friends.

For decades, municipalities have held ceremonies in January for those who are or will be 20 in the year until early April to welcome them as adults. But this year’s celebrations could mark the last time the event is held for 20-year-olds in some municipalities, as a Civil Code amendment to lower the age of majority to 18 from 20 is expected to enter. effective April 1. The age for drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and playing gambling games, such as betting on horse races, however, will remain unchanged at 20.

Women in kimonos travel to Tokyo on Monday for a ceremony to celebrate Adulthood Day.  |  REUTERS
Women in kimonos travel to Tokyo on Monday for a ceremony to celebrate Adulthood Day. | REUTERS

But most municipalities will likely continue to host the annual event for 20-year-olds, according to reports. That’s because most 18-year-olds are still high school kids too busy with college entrance exams or worried about their future jobs to attend an event. Another reason is that organizing the event for 18 year olds would mean organizing an event for 18 year olds, 19 year olds and 20 year olds in the first year.

According to the Home Office, 610,000 men and 590,000 women turned 20 last year, down 40,000 from the previous year and the lowest on record.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida congratulated all the new adults.

“With the lingering effects of the novel coronavirus, things may not turn out as planned in your studies, work and personal life. However, even in the midst of it all, I hope you take another step forward as new adults with your dreams for the future, ”he said in a Twitter post from the Premier’s office. Minister.

Kyodo information added

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