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The first public holiday of the year is the 'coming of age day' or the Seijin no hi(成人の日). This year it falls on the tenth of January. People get to enjoy the first long weekend of the year, but what is the holiday about, and how might it concern you?
The tradition started somewhere around the year 720. But it became an official holiday in 1948. It had a fixed date(the fifteenth of January), which got changed into 'the second Monday of January' in 2000, to make a three day weekend.
The holiday is for young adults who have turned twenty from the second of April the previous year or will turn twenty by the first of April the current year.
The ceremonies traditionally take place in local community halls or school auditoriums. But can sometimes be held in more commercial locations like amusement parks or event venues.
The young women usually wear elaborate kimono setups. The young men tend to go darker coloured traditional wear or western-style suits.
The ceremony concludes with government officials congratulating the new adults and sometimes giving small presents. When the official part is over, the fresh adults commonly party with their peers or family.
The Coming of Age Day this year
The participants of the Sejin no hi peaked in the mid-seventies. Since then, the numbers have gone down more than half. Many factors, like low birth rates and the ceremonies image amongst young adults, have contributed to the decline. This year the numbers are expected to be the smallest yet.
It has to do with lowering the legal age to 18 from the first of April. Many local governments failed to announce how they intend to proceed with the ceremony. Although, some have stated that it should remain at twenty. The popular opinion amongst young people, according to government polls, also shows that most prefer it to stay at twenty.
The change of legal age
Basically, it only concerns the right to vote. Most vices like drinking, gambling and going to nightclubs are still off till you are twenty.
If you are not in the age group for the ceremony, you still get to enjoy a long weekend. And if you are a fan of traditional clothes, it might be a good photo opportunity. Just make sure to ask first.