Most Coming-of-Age Day ceremonies stick with 20-year-olds

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants clad in kimono at a “gathering of 20-year-olds” pose for a photo in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on Sunday.

The legal age of adulthood was lowered to 18 last year, but on Monday, many local municipalities across the nation stuck to the tradition of marking Coming-of-Age Day for those turning 20 this year.

Some rebranded the event as “Hatachi no Tsudoi,” or a “gathering of 20-year-olds.”

Of the 62 wards, cities, towns and villages in metropolitan Tokyo, a total of 59 limited their ceremonies to participants who will become 20 this year, according to a survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Tokyo’s Koto Ward was among those that retained the traditional age for its ceremony at the local Tiara Koto hall. About 2,400 participants, some dressed in colorful kimono, joyfully reunited with friends and former classmates with exchanges of “Long time no see” and “Congratulations.”

But instead of calling it the “Seijin-shiki” (Coming-of-Age Ceremony) for its 20-year-olds, the ward changed the title this year to “Hatachi no Tsudoi” in light of the new legal age of adulthood, which was lowered to 18 with a revision of the Civil Code in April last year.

“The ceremony made me realize the support that I’ve received in my life from my parents and many people around me,” said a 20-year-old ward resident, currently a university sophomore. “I’m happy to celebrate this milestone.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Matsumoto was among several municipalities that held its ceremony on Sunday.

Among the reasons given for keeping the ceremony for 20-year-olds was that for 18-year-olds, “it coincides with university entrance exams or job searching, which places a large burden on the participants and their guardians,” according to Shibuya Ward.

Like Koto Ward, about 50 municipalities in Tokyo held such ceremonies under the new name this year.

January is indeed a busy time for 18-year-olds as they prepare for the next stage in their lives. In particular, those preparing to take the Common Test for University Admissions on Jan. 14-15 would likely be unable to take the time to participate in the ceremony, even if one was held for them.

Still, some municipalities held their ceremonies in line with the new legal age as a way to encourage the new adults to be aware of their responsibilities.

In Kunisaki, Oita Prefecture, the city government held a ceremony for 20-year-olds on Aug. 14 and for 19-year-olds on Aug. 15 last year. It plans to hold one for 18-year-olds in May this year.