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JapanFocus
Low Attendance for Japan's Coming of Age Day
Sign of declining population behind small numbers?
David Michael Weber (crossfire)     Print Article 
Published 2007-01-12 01:32 (KST)   
Young girls at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine Celebrate Their Coming of Age
©2007 D.Weber

Once again the streets of Japan were filled (or slightly filled as the records show this year) with girls celebrating their coming into adulthood wearing traditional long-sleeved kimono known as furisode.

©2007 D.Weber

Age 20 is the legal adult age in Japan and over 50 years ago a national holiday known as Seijin-no-Hi ("Coming of Age Day") was established to give these new adults a day to celebrate.

A passerby gives a double look as two young women make their entrance
©2007 D.Weber

This is the day especially for young women to shine and achieve celebrity-like status in their gorgeous furisode kimono. Temples and shrines are mobbed with kimono-clad girls posing away while fervid photographers snap away.

©2007 D.Weber

This year's Coming of Age Day however marks one of the lowest turn outs since 1987. The Baby Boom generation had it's highest number of 20 year olds in 1970 with 2.46 million and their children registered 2.04 million in 1994.

A young woman enjoys her celebrity-status
©2007 D.Weber

The overall figure of today's 20 year olds is a grim 1.09% of the entire population. This year's low numbers has rekindled the brooding fear of a top-heavy population of the elderly over a smaller population of youth.

©2007 D.Weber

With more and more baby boomers getting prepared for retirement, there is a legitimate fear of labor shortages in the near future. The Japanese government has so far been relunctant to ease immigration policies which would help to fill growing labor gaps.

©2007 D.Weber

In contrast to the grim foreboding future of a youth-less Japanese society and the nightmare to right-wingers of growing foriegn labor, the number of marriages and births has gone up in recent times prompting hope.

©2007 D.Weber

All this gloom seemingly did not faze the new adults. They were too busy getting their pictures taken, riding the rides at Disneyland, and simply enjoying their special day.

©2007 D.Weber


©2007 D.Weber


©2007 D.Weber


©2007 D.Weber


A contrasting young couple pose for pictures
©2007 D.Weber
©2007 OhmyNews
A native Tennesseean, David M. Weber is currently at the grammatical grindstone cranking out gerunds, dangling modifiers and perfecting tenses as an English teacher in Japan. In his travels, he has hiked the Inca Trail, been mugged in Mexico City, broke his leg in Switzerland, attempted to bike through Mexico and failed, climbed Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, drank great quantities of beer at Oktoberfest and gambled at Monte Carlo.
Other articles by reporter David Michael Weber

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