TOKYO - Dazzling in colourful kimonos and wafting clouds of hairspray in their wake, thousands of young Japanese women marked their entry into adulthood Monday (Jan 8) - before hitting a bar to celebrate.
Formal "Coming of Age" ceremonies, which began as a rite of ancient samurai families, were held across Japan for its 20-year-olds, reminding them of their responsibilities after becoming old enough to legally drink and smoke.
Their male counterparts looked more like they were attending job interviews as most opted for the kind of plain business suit they will wear as "salarymen" in the future.
"I'll definitely be having a few drinks tonight," said Arisu Oshida, wrapped in a salmon-pink kimono and expensively made-up with cherry-red lips and gold flakes in her hair.
"It will probably taste a little different knowing it's legal to drink alcohol. I expect to be somewhere between tipsy and smashed by midnight."
Huddled against the chill wind, crowds of new adults offered prayers at Tokyo's Meiji shrine, while many more flocked to Disneyland just outside the capital to ride rollercoasters and pose for photos with Mickey Mouse and friends.
Celebrated on the second Monday of the year from snow-swept northern Japan to the subtropical south, Coming of Age Day includes those who turned 20 the previous year or will do so before March 31.
There were an estimated 1.23 million new adults as of January 1 - largely unchanged from the previous year and half the 1970 peak of 2.46 million, according to government figures - mirroring Japan's shrinking population.
"My parents warned me not to go mad tonight," said Makoto Kusaka, sporting a dark suit and a pair of gold earrings.
"I suppose I have to be more responsible now I'm officially an adult. But I'm not confident that I won't be very drunk later tonight."