Today was a holiday, the seijin-no-hi, Coming of Age Day. In Japan, you become a legal adult at the age of 20, and seijin-no-hi celebrates all the young people who turned 20 in the last year. That this is a special day can even be deduced from the language: 20 years old is irregularly named hatachi instead of nijusai as would be normal.
All over Japan, there are official celebrations at government offices, and groups of youngsters dressed up in their best finery (i.e., kimono with sleeves to the ground for the girls and hakama and haori for the guys) can be spotted everywhere all day long. The young people are obviously having a blast, and the atmosphere is lighthearted, joyous, and festive, despite the low temperatures. The nice thing is, that they are all happy to have their pictures taken, and both Japanese and foreigners seek out the best places for a photo opportunity.
One part of the celebrations – besides official and family parties – is to go visit a shrine for a quick prayer. So, I went down to Heian shrine this afternoon to take some pictures of my own. I took more than 250 photos, even though I only stayed one hour until my fingers froze to the camera… Here are a few of my favourites: