Japan’s Coming of Age Day Holiday Spectacle
Our Youth  ·  Our Future  ·  Our Hope “Coming of Age Day” 2009, Kyoto Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 102 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Our Youth  ·  Our Future  ·  Our Hope
“Coming of Age Day” 2009, Kyoto Japan

I really need to learn how to use a calendar. Yesterday I missed the fire-department parade because I forgot about it, and today for the same reason I mostly missed the frightening spectacle that is Coming of Age Day in Japan, a holiday for those who turn 20 years old during the current school year, celebrating their official entrance into legal adulthood. This year's ceremonies were for those born between April 2, 1988 and April 1, 1989, inclusive. It's the first to include those born during the reign of the current emperor, and the last for which I can say “all these kids were in Japan before me”.

Heading Home -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Home

I was reminded about the day when I left for an appointment after lunch and was immediately greeted with total gridlock. It's an occasion for many of the new adults to visit a shrine, and the Heian Shrine is one of the most popular for it, so for that reason enough it would be crazy-busy around here, but the city hosts a big ceremony at the Kyoto City Chamber of Commerce exhibition hall, which is even closer to my place than the Heian Shrine.

The official city-sponsored ceremony was held twice to accommodate the numbers, and I returned from my appointment an hour and a half after the final one had ended, but there were still some kids around, so I scrambled out to try to capture a few pictures in the half hour that remained before the sun set.

Gaggles of Girls big hair · bigger hopes -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/400 sec, f/4.5, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Gaggles of Girls
big hair · bigger hopes
Groups of Guys big hair · bigger hopes -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/400 sec, f/3.2, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Groups of Guys
big hair · bigger hopes

Another big “visit a shrine” day is shichi-go-san, a holiday for children aged 7, 5, and 3, where they visit a shrine for special blessings. The kids are, generally, all dressed up and cute enough to eat, and it's just wonderful to sit and watch them.

Today's celebrations, too, involve dressing up and visiting a shrine, but for my tastes, it's decidedly less cute. The girls, in particular, dress up exaggeratedly ornately, with, over the top hair, makeup, gaudy plastic fingernails, and, generally speaking, accessories ridiculous both in size and number.

I was out for just half an hour, but in such a target-rich environment, I had plenty of “interesting” sights to capture. I'll save those for another post; today's post are just some pictures to give an overall feeling of the scene...

The kids tended to clump into same-sex groups, with boys and girls rarely mixing...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos

Because all the kids went through school at the same time, the day is somewhat of a class reunion, so there were lots of group photos.

Friends Forever -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm — 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Friends Forever

Random shots...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 125 mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 116 mm — 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Piling In it took a good minute for the four to get themselves into the taxi -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 116 mm — 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Piling In
it took a good minute for the four to get themselves into the taxi
New Adults this way -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 105 mm — 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
New Adults
this way

I have no idea why I took the photo above, nor why I like it so much, but there's something about it that I find appealing. The sign says (in very polite language) “New Adults”, and points the way to the hall where the ceremonies took place.

I've written many times how much I love the cultural touch of a kimono. Whether visiting a shrine, attending a wedding, out for a stroll, enjoying the cherry blossoms, enjoying the fall colors, out shopping, or even just watering the plants, the touch of a kimono just adds class and cultural depth. I love it.

Today, though, was pretty much the antithesis of all that, but it certainly makes for some interesting shots. I'll share more in a later post.


All 6 comments so far, oldest first...

I love your blog ;D !

— comment by Jack on January 13th, 2009 at 1:06am JST (8 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Lovely colours, especially the ones of the first photo of “Random shots…”

— comment by Gianluca on January 13th, 2009 at 2:10am JST (8 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

these are awesome!

— comment by greg on January 13th, 2009 at 2:19pm JST (8 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Heading Home is a fantastic shot, the lighting is just superb. I just read your 13th Jan post and realised I’d missed this – thanks for sharing.

Thanks, that was my second snap of the day, right after the “Gaggle of Girls” shot. I was sort of in panic mode, wondering whether there was any good light to be found… —Jeffrey

— comment by David on January 13th, 2009 at 10:15pm JST (8 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I love these! I have for so long wanted to go to Japan, and hopfully see the festivals. But, I applied to be an exchange student and am going to Thailand, I was wondering if you could point me in a direction to find a picture blog of Thailand as magnificent as your’s. It would help. Thank you for the amazing photos. Beautiful

— comment by Jay on January 16th, 2009 at 12:27am JST (8 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I can’t remember having met any other man saying that he likes seeing kimonos. I really appreciate it. Japan attracted me for it’s (to me) exotic traditions, so I can relate to your interest in that.

— comment by Anne on September 16th, 2012 at 12:54am JST (4 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink
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