Seijin no hi (成人の日), or Coming of Age Day, is a big day for young people in Japan. Twenty is when you’re legally considered to be an adult in Japanese society, meaning that’s the age you can vote, drive, drink, and gamble. On this day, people come together to celebrate anyone who turned twenty in the past year. This public holiday takes place on the second Monday of January each year, and seijin-shiki (coming of age ceremonies) are hosted at city halls across the country.
Furisode, one of the most formal types of kimono, shown here worn by young women at a Coming of Age ceremony
Coming of Age ceremonies are a sight to behold, with many young adults choosing to dress up in traditional attire for the day. Young women wear furisode, a type of formal kimono with long sleeves that drape nearly to the ground! Furisode are like walking works of art, with vivid colors and dazzling patterns. Originally worn by young women to signify that they are of age and unmarried, furisode are nowadays worn for formal events like seijin-shiki and college graduations.
For this special day, most young women will rent a furisode for the day because buying one can cost thousands of dollars! Young women will go all-out on this day with extravagant hairdos to match their furisode. Meanwhile, young men attending these ceremonies can be seen either wearing suits, or traditional men’s kimono called hakama with haori jackets.
Seijin no hi: History and Tradition
The first Coming of Age Day celebration is said to have taken place back in the 8th century when a prince dressed in extravagant robes and cut his hair to show that he was an adult. Since then, the traditions have changed. For example, during the Edo period, young men would start carrying swords to show they were of age, and women would blacken their teeth. Back then, boys were considered adults when they turned fifteen and, for girls, it was thirteen. In 1876, the legal adult age changed to twenty, but that will soon change in 2022 when it will be lowered to eighteen.
At seijin-shiki, there are speeches given by government officials, small gifts handed out, and, of course, lots of photos to be taken since everyone is all dressed up! Afterward, the new adults may visit shrines with their families to pray for luck in the coming years. Others may split off with their friends to enjoy drinks, now that they legally can! Do you know someone attending a Coming of Age ceremony, or just want to say cheers to a friend turning twenty? Surprise them with some Japanese snacks and treats, with our seijin-no-hi-inspired recommendations below!
Candies for Grown-Ups:
Sake Kit Kats
Yes, you read that right, Japan has Kit Kats made with sake! Tearing into one of these, you can smell and taste the sake, which blends quite smoothly with the white chocolate. With 0.8% alcohol content, who says candy is just for kids? Prefer fruity drinks? You won’t want to miss Ume Sake Kit Kats, flavored to taste like umeshu plum wine. The sweetness and fruity fragrance of the plums really come through with this one.
Otona no Amasa Kit Kats
Level it up with the Japanese line of Kit Kats called Otona no Amasa, which means “adult sweetness” (大人の甘さ). Compared to standard Kit Kats, these aren’t as sweet. The Dark Chocolate Otona no Amasa Kit Kat boasts a rich cocoa flavor, and the Strawberry Otona no Amasa Kit Kat has a light tartness that makes a statement.
For matcha lovers, get them the Matcha Otona no Amasa Kit Kats. It’s made with real, ground gyokuro tea leaves from Uji, a city in Kyoto, which is famous for its top-tier green tea. Still not enough? For an even richer, nuanced flavor experience, get them the Dark Matcha version of the Otona no Amasa series.
Another cute thing about Japanese Kit Kats is that the individually packaged pieces will have a small section where you can write in a message! This makes them perfect for handing out at celebrations because you can personalize them with little notes.
If you’re finding it impossible to decide because of all these flavor choices, you can also get an exclusive Japanese Kit Kats Party Box, which includes a variety of flavors including sake, matcha, wasabi, and many more! Not only would this be an amazing gift, but it’s also fun to share it with friends and discover many of the fun Japanese Kit Kat flavors, some of which you can only get in certain regions in Japan!
Yuzu Sake Candy
Yuzu (ゆず) is a type of citrus fruit that is slowly growing in popularity, even in the West. It’s used in Japanese cooking but is also a popular ingredient in cocktails like yuzu sake (yuzushu; ゆず酒). Yuzu tastes somewhere between a mandarin orange and grapefruit, with a sweet, refreshing flavor. Yuzu rinds are known to be fragrant, and that’s why it’s been combined in these yuzu sake candies which contain 0.1% alcohol content.
With all the candies we’ve just mentioned made with alcohol, you’re gonna need some snacks to munch on! At izakaya, people sit together around a table and share small bites of food, kind of similar to tapas in Spain. Izakayas can have everything from finger foods to yakitori chicken skewers. After attending a seijin-shiki, an izakaya would be one of the best ways to enjoy drinks and food with friends! Below, you’ll find some snacks perfect for sharing!
Takoyaki Tei Corn Puffs
An order of takoyaki, fried balls of dough with pieces of octopus, is always excellent for sharing at the table! Get a taste of this flavorful, famous treat from Osaka, Japan, with these takoyaki-flavored corn puffs. Typically, takoyaki is topped with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, green onions, and powdered seaweed, which you can taste in these umami-packed snacks!
Ofu Smoked Crackers
If your friend is a vegetarian, consider getting them the Ofu smoked crackers lineup of snacks. Ofu (お麩) is wheat gluten, an alternative to tofu in Buddhist cuisine. The shichimi seven-spice flavor ofu packs a punch! Each bag of ofu includes peanuts, which add an interesting texture and balances out the flavors so it isn’t overpowering. This snack would go well with an ice-cold beer!
Otona no Otsumami Crunch
Otsumami are Japanese finger foods, such as peanuts, dried squid, and roasted green peas, which are often served at bars in Japan as a complement to beers. They’re usually savory, but spicy options like the Otona no Otsumami shrimp chips flavored with black pepper are also popular. These aren’t your ordinary Japanese shrimp chips though! These are made with sakura ebi, one of the rarest Japanese shrimp that can only be found in one bay in Japan.
Mini Cakes to Celebrate:
Everybody loves cakes, but if it’s difficult to bring a whole cake to a party, we recommend these little cakes that are individually wrapped, making them easy to pack and go and hand out as gifts. Even though these cakes are bite-sized, don’t be deceived. They’ve got plenty of flavor!
Koganeimo Golden Sweet Potato Cake
For a mature, yet comforting flavor, this little cake made with sweet potato has a rich flavor accented by cinnamon and rum raisin. The subtle sweetness and warm spices are perfect for the colder weather at this time of year.
Rich Baked Chocolat
This is the cake to get for friends who love decadent chocolate cakes. Each bite is rich and intense because the Rich Baked Chocolat is made with couverture chocolate, which contains a higher percentage of cocoa content compared to standard chocolate.
A Japanese Snack Box
Food is a huge part of celebrations, and unique and authentic snacks make memorable gifts. If you’re finding it hard to pick and choose among all of these options above, why not consider a Japanese snack subscription box? With a snack box from Bokksu, you can please everyone with sweet and savory snack options sourced straight from Japan!