Japan celebrates coming-of-age day despite virus surge
Young adults dressed to the nines in kimonos and suits gathered at venues in Japan yesterday to celebrate their coming of age, although many of the usually jubilant events were canceled over COVID-19 fears.
Over one million people in Japan turn 20 this year, the age at which they can legally drink alcohol, smoke and get married without parental approval.
They are traditionally feted each January on Coming of Age Day with a formal ceremony, originally a rite of ancient samurai families but now often followed by raucous drinking sprees.
But a record surge in COVID-19 cases and a monthlong state of emergency in and around Tokyo have led many local authorities to scrap or postpone the festivities.
“I know there is a risk of infection, but I am here because it’s an event that you only experience once in your life, and it’s also a chance to meet friends who I haven’t seen for a long time,” student Naomi Ooba said at an event in Kawasaki, southwest of the capital.
“I’m going to return straight home, but it’s a shame that we can’t go and eat with our friends because of the virus,” said 20-year-old student Ayane Uchino.
Kawasaki and neighboring Yokohama are included in the state of emergency, which is less strict than the harsh lockdowns in other countries.
At Yokohama Arena, women in ornate kimonos, white stoles and masks sat in socially distanced seating, with the men mainly in suits. The arena’s capacity was limited to 5,000, with four separate ceremonies.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has urged young people to follow the emergency measures, which ask residents to avoid non-essential outings and request restaurants and bars to close early. More than half the recent infections in Tokyo are under 30.