Seijin No Hi
Today was Seijin No Hi, or Coming of Age Day, which marks the passage of all twenty year olds into official adulthood. On this day, the "new adults" gather in their respective districts for a special ceremony, sometimes bumping into friends they haven't met since elementary school.
The young men typically wear a formal black suit.
But the young ladies--waaay more fun. In the midst of crowded streets and train platforms, they are small explosions of color and texture, and primped from head to toe: Hair intricately arranged, pinned, and adorned. Makeup expertly applied. The deliberately exposed nape protected by a big puff of fur while outdoors. Body painstakingly wrapped in a shimmering, jeweled-tone kimono with elegant sleeves that pool almost to the ground--the sign of a young, unmarried woman. Feet encased in sleek tabi and zori.
From what I can tell, Seijin No Hi seems like just a good excuse--and one of the rare occasions--for young women to dress up in kimono. These days, if you see someone wearing a kimono, it is invariably an older woman. The kimono is definitely not easy to wear. I had two experienced ladies helping to dress me in kimono for my wedding, and despite the fact that they were working as fast as possible, it still took them a whole hour. For that reason alone, I can understand why the kimono is losing out to dresses that you can slip on in seconds.
It is a pity, though, for the flocks of girls in kimono that I saw today looked absolutely lovely.
For more info on Seijin No Hi, this is a good article.