Coming of Age Day Photos 2006-01-12
Come of Age Day (Seijin No Hi) celebrates young men and women who have reached the age of twenty. They gather for ceromonies in each city, go out with their families, and converge on shrines. The most colorful reminder of the day are the kimonos. Young women (who can afford the cost) wear a traditional kimono. Being so well dressed, there's no point in staying around the house. Many head for a famous spot, and one of the most popular is Meiji Jingu, the largest shrine in Tokyo.
They head for Meiji Jingu with families, friends, and boyfriends. In their wake come a slew of photographers who can (and will) shoot a year's worth of film. It's not often in Japan that you can point your camera at anyone (almost) without disapproval. Seijin No Hi is one of the rare exceptions. Having learned this two years ago, I happily returned to Meiji Jingu again this year. My only disappointment was that I used up both camera batteries (they're getting too old) at the shrine. Afterwards, when I returned to the sea of mixed humuanity in Harajuku (kimonos, cosplayers, suits, low fashion, high fashion all rubbing shoulders), I could only record the moment in mind.
The wall separating photographers and subjects is paper thin in Meiji Jingu on this one day. In fact, some photographers reach across the barrier and pose their shots. And some of the girls are willing and able models. I came across a man preparing for a shot and took this picture. It's one of my favorite photos from the day, and many more will follow.