Twenty-year-olds all over Japan will dress up, party and accept responsibility Monday as part of the nation's Coming of Age Day. Held every year on the second Monday of January, the holiday recognizes a citizen's — you guessed it — coming of age. When a person turns 20, they're legally considered an adult. They can vote, drink and smoke, according to web-japan.org.
“The coming-of-age ceremony is supposed to be a serious event where you demonstrate your recognition that you have become an independent adult,” Kitakyushu official Yasuhiro Iida told the Japan Times.
Everyone who turned 20 in the past year celebrates on Coming of Age Day, which is referred to in Japanese as Seijin no Hi. Monday is designated as a public holiday.
The Coming of Age Day tradition may reach as far back as the 700s, though its more modern interpretation began in the 1600s. Boys would participate in genpuku and girls would join in mogi ceremonies where they would dress in adult robes and cut their hair. But the people celebrating were younger — around 16, rather than 20.
The holiday took on a different tone after World War II, when the city of Warabi, near Tokyo, hosted a youth festival to cheer people up. The concept caught on and became official in 1948, according to the Japan Foundation. Coming of Age Day was initially held on Jan. 15 annually, but that changed in 2000.
These days, new 20-year-olds attend ceremonies where they listen to lectures from public officials and are given presents. The women wear expensive furisode gowns and zori slippers, while the men don suits or hakama pants, according to Stars and Stripes. Afterward, they drink together in pubs.
"I still remember my Seijin no Hi," combat instructor Miyuki Taneichi told a writer for the Misawa Air Base website in 2013. "Even though I was already working at that time, I felt more mature somehow. I remember thinking 'I'm an adult now' and I'd get a chill knowing no one could take that away from me."
Here are photos from previous years' Coming of Age Day celebrations: