Coming of age day, why in January?

If you are 20 years old then you will be having your coming of age ceremony tomorrow. In some places it has already happened, but the official day this year is January 8th, and it is a national holiday.

Many congratulations to all of you who are celebrating your 20th birthday; I think it is a wonderful thing to celebrate it all over Japan at the same time, and it seems very nice to have a formal ceremony as you enter adulthood.

But I have two questions, please help me.

Why is this ceremony in January? Why is it a national holiday?

It’s the middle of winter and many places in Japan are covered in snow and freezing cold, it doesn’t seem a good time to enjoy wearing beautiful kimono and hakama.

And many people who celebrate their 20th birthday are 19 years old. Everyone whose birthday is between January 9th and March 31st will be 19 on coming of age day. Can they drink alcohol at the party? Since they are not yet 20 years old drinking alcohol is illegal. So what happens at the party? Do many of those who are 20 get drunk, while those who are 19 sit and drink orange juice and oolong tea?

And why is it a national holiday? I guess it’s good that the whole of Japan has a holiday for the small number who are 20 years old, but I feel that it is probably less trouble to have it on Sunday rather than Monday, in fact I saw many people celebrating today, Sunday.

My own suggestion is to have this celebration on the first Sunday in April. Then everyone will be 20. Then the weather will be warmer. Then most 20 year olds who are still students will be in their hometown. And then you can drink alcohol under the cherry blossom.

3 thoughts on “Coming of age day, why in January?

  1. Thank you Megumi, your explanation is very good. And I like reading your thoughts about April being an unsuitable time of year for coming of age. Now I agree with you!
    And it is great to hear that your coming of age day was so wonderful.
    Are you a child? I think anyone who asks themselves this question is not a child, for children don’t consider such things.


  2. I suspect the coming of Age day was brought forward from the 15th of January to the 7th to avoid trouble with universities which usually resume the second week after New Year. This particular holiday has suffered a lot recently as some kids have used it as a license for booze and other excesses. Would you believe that it is because one of them turned really sour in our town of Shizuoka that the Government has ordered Cities to conduct their official ceremonies only with selected adults in attendance since then?


  3. I will answer your questions. But I am not good at grammar. If you find mistakes and you can not understand, I am sorry.

    First question.
    Coming of age day was January 15th until 1999. January 15th is New Year in old calendar. Old people had Genpuku on this day. Genpuku is Coming of age day ceremony in the past. So we had a ceremony on this day, but holiday law changed and the date moves every year between 8th and 14th. But the month never changed.
    And old peple used Kazoedoshi. Birthday was New year in Kazoedoshi. If you were born on December 31st, you get old the next day!! But kazoedoshi is not used habitually now. So 19 years old take part in ceremony with 20 years old.

    Second question.
    It has something to do with the happy Monday system. This system is some national holidays are moved to a specific Monday at a date in the past. This is provided by law. Then we get a 3 day holiday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday!! So Coming of Age Day moved to the second Monday in January.

    My opinion is April is too busy. Some people get work, and leave hometown. Others return to school because vacation ends. Many things start in this season. I think January is good.
    My birthday is in February, I am still 19. So I can not drink alcohol. But my twin brother drinks alcohol already. It is bad. But he knows it, and takes responsibility for himself. I think he is an adult.
    My Coming of age day was wonderful!! I put on my mother’s kimono. It’s very beautiful. And I could meet old friends and take pictures.
    But I can not actually feel grown up. Am I a child??



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