Coming-of-Age Day (成人の日)
Coming-of-Age Day is a national holiday in Japan.
The Act on National Holidays states that the purpose of the holiday is to celebrate and encourage young people who realize they have grown up and try to live life by themselves. On this holiday each city and town invites those people who have turned twenty in the last year to a Coming of Age ceremony (in some regions it is held during Golden Week, a holiday in early-May, or during the Bon festival, the festival of Buddhist All Souls' Day, in order to avoid heavy snow and for it to be during a time when people can return to their birthplace). This kind of holiday is rare in the world.
Essentially, Coming-of-Age Day is for those who turn twenty from the day after the last Coming-of-Age Day to the day of the present one (For example, for Coming-of-Age Day in 1998, those who turned twenty from January 16, 1997 to January 15, 1998). However, recently the ceremony is for those who turn twenty from April 2nd of the previous year to April 1st of the present year, to fit the academic year.
Up to 1999
The holiday was established by the Act on National Holidays which was published and enacted in 1948. From 1948 to 1999 the holiday was on January 15 every year. The reason why January 15 was set as Coming-of-Age Day was that this date is the date of the Little New Year festival and the ceremony of attaining manhood used to be held during the Little New Year.
During the period when Coming-of-Age Day was fixed on 15 January, the preliminary standard university entrance examinations in 1983 and 1984 and the University Testing Center Examination in 1994 and 1995 were carried out on this holiday.
Along with introduction of the 'happy Monday' system, from 2000 this holiday was set to be on the second Monday of January, in effect a Monday between 8 and 14 January. Therefore this holiday does not now fall on the original date of 15 January.
The new date was not set for the third Monday of January because January 17 is also 'Disaster Prevention and Volunteer Day.'
This is the anniversary of the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake. From 2005 the kigo (a phrase used to highlight the season) 'Hanshin memorial day' began to appear in the Saijiki literary calendar. There is generally consideration for those who lost loved ones in the earthquake in not celebrating the holiday on this day (years when Coming-of-Age Day falls on January 10 following the enacting of the revised Act on National Holidays are an example).
In some regions of Japan the local government holds the Coming-of-Age Ceremony on the Sunday before Coming-of-Age Day so that those who have to return home can participate without difficulty.
Before the Happy Monday System was introduced many people had difficulty participating in the one-day ceremony in their hometown due to the traffic. But since the Act on National Holidays was revised some local governments have gone back to hold the Coming-of-Age Ceremony during New Year holidays, Golden Week, or Obon.
The final game of the All Japan High School Soccer Tournament has been held on Coming-of-Age Day since fiscal year 2002 (calendar year 2003). The Japan Rugby Football Tournament used to be held on Coming-of-Age Day on January 15 and some players who had recently turned twenty took part in the game.