Cultures

I cheer for new adults.

Today is Coming of Age Day, a national holiday in Japan. People who turned 20 the previous year gather at the venue for the coming-of-age ceremony. Then they are congratulated by the mayor and a representative expresses his/her aspirations for adulthood. There are 1.17 million of these people nationwide. Most of the women attend in gorgeous FURISODE (long-sleeved kimono). When you see young people on the street wearing not accustomed suits or kimonos, you know they have turned 20.

In 1946, a mayor started a new adult celebration. He wanted to give hope and encouragement to young people who lead the next generation in a state of Japan’s despondency due to its defeat in WW2. The culture of celebrating new adults by the town spread from here.

By the way, “adults” in Japan mean people over 20 until last year. This age has been stipulated by law since 1876 and no logical reason has been given. It was probably set in line with other laws, such as the voting age and the legal drinking and smoking age. In many countries, 18 is considered an adult. Following that in Japan, the law was amended to treat people over 18 as adults last year.

18-year-olds can now contract alone. Parental consent is no longer required for things like signing a mobile phone, renting a room to live alone, getting a credit card, or taking out a loan to buy expensive products. In addition, it is now possible to legally refuse custody, education, and property management from parents.

The point to note is that they still have to turn 20 before they can start drinking and smoking, and that contracts for 18 and 19 cannot be canceled. If they were minors, they could cancel the contract if they signed it without parental consent. Speaking of 18 in Japan, it is a first year university student who has just graduated from high school. They are considered to have poor social and work experience, and some argue that it is too early to sign contracts or participate in elections.

If I were to give them a message, I would say “Take it easy”. I’m 35 now, but I still struggle with the same things and make mistakes that I did when I was 20. Nothing will change dramatically after today. Whether you are an adult or a child, I would like to support those who have dreams and goals and work diligently toward them.

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