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On Monday January 13th, Japan will celebrate a public holiday called “Coming of Age Day” （成人の日）. Since 1876, the legal age in Japan has been 20 years, and it is the age from which young adults are able to vote, purchase alcohol or tobacco products etc. (They are allowed to drive before turning 20, and during WWII were conscripted as teenagers).
Each year, local governments hold special ceremonies to mark the rite of passage on the second Monday of January. The exception is some remote villages, which sometimes hold their ceremonies during the summer when their young people return from the major cities to visit their families.
Most of the people turning 20 during the course of the preceding year participate in the ceremonies, and most, especially the girls, will dress in formal kimono (traditional furisode) for photographs. As the average age for marriage is increasing, and the number of unmarried women likewise, for many women this will be the most formal kimono they might wear. It is a good opportunity to see colorful designs, and the major train stations are usually crowded.
It is also a chance for the older generations to complain about the young, and for news media to comment on the gradually declining number of participants! Nothing changes. The birth rate is lower than it has ever been, and many young people need to work.