Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age Day is a national holiday in Japan that’s observed on the second Monday of January. The purpose of this holiday is to honor those who have reached the age of 20 years from April of the previous year to April of the current year and to encourage them to begin their journey as fully matured adults. This holiday has been celebrated since at least the 8th century and may have even been celebrated before that time. As a holiday, this day is celebrated not only on an interpersonal level but also on a local level. This holiday is sometimes referred to by its other name: Adult Day.

The History of Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age Day is believed to have started during the reign of Empress Genmei in 714 CE. It is said that a young prince donned elaborate robes to celebrate becoming an adult on this day. It officially became a holiday in 1948 when it was designated to be held on January 15th annually.

However, this was changed in 2000 when the Happy Monday System was implemented. The Happy Monday System reorganized a number of public holidays so that they would fall on a Monday, allowing more Japanese citizens to enjoy 3-day weekends more frequently. This moved the holiday from being observed on January 15th every year to the second Monday of January.

Observing Coming of Age Day

On Coming of Age Day, all the young women come to the festivities dressed in a furisode or kimono. Throughout Japan, rental stores rent kimonos and furisodes so that young Japanese women can have the proper attire for the festivities. This is especially important nowadays since these outfits can cost thousands of dollars. The young men who celebrate this holiday either wear a traditional men’s kimono with hakama or Western attire.

As for the event itself, it attracts attention from all over Japan. Not only are young men and women who have turned 20 over the past year invited, but also family members, news crews, and photographers. These ceremonies are held across Japan at official government centers, city halls, and ward offices. In larger cities, there will be several of these events happening concurrently.

At around 11:30 in the morning, attendees and their families arrive for photo opportunities and for the speeches that are offered. The newly minted adults are welcomed by the mayor or other government officials and congratulated for reaching adulthood. This speech also contains a gentle reminder of their new responsibilities.

During some of the larger ceremonies, there may also be performances and live music, although not all ceremonies include them. On this day, people also go to the local shrine to tend to their spiritual health. When all the official ceremonies have concluded, many of the attendees will hit the town with their friends and go to a restaurant or to a bar to exercise their newly-acquired right to drink alcohol.

Where is it celebrated?
Japan (National holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
January 8 Monday
Next year (2025)
January 13 Monday
Last year (2023)
January 9 Monday