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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Japan Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Japanese holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 2- "Coming of Age Day."
Coming of Age Day is celebrated on the 2nd Monday in January. In Japan, a person legally becomes an adult at the age of twenty, and this holiday congratulates and encourages those young people who have just turned twenty. This current celebration of adulthood is said to have derived from a coming of age festival that started just after the Second World War. It was held first in Saitama Prefecture with the goal of giving hope and courage to young people in the post-war society.
Now, before we go further, do you know the answer to this question- while Coming of Age Day is currently celebrated on the 2nd Monday in January, on what day was it held prior to 2000?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On this holiday, a coming of age ceremony is held in each municipality. Cities in regions with heavy snowfall may hold these ceremonies later in the year during Golden Week or お盆 (o-bon). For the ceremony, young people who are turning twenty gather at public places, such as city hall, and receive congratulations from town officials before being awarded a souvenir. A representative of the new adults also makes a short speech expressing resolutions for a healthy, productive adult life. Sometimes class reunions are held after the coming of age ceremony. Many people leave their hometown after graduating from high school, and the coming of age ceremony is a good opportunity for them to catch up with old friends.
Since the coming of age ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, special clothes are worn. Men generally wear a suit, and women wear a 振袖 (furisode). A 振袖 (furisode) is a long-sleeved kimono for unmarried women, and it’s quite expensive. In addition to the furisode, women should also wear kimono accessories, such as belts and sandals. While some people rent these outfits for the ceremony, many parents buy the furisode and accessories for their daughters because it is a time of celebration.
Coming of Age Day is also celebrated in some homes by cooking "red rice." The color red is often used to represent auspicious occasions in Japanese culture. Red rice is glutinous rice that has been mixed with 小豆 (azuki) beans. The 小豆 (azuki) beans dye the rice a pink color and, as a "red" food, it’s an essential part of many Japanese celebrations. Some young people also receive gifts or money from relatives and acquaintances to congratulate them on their coming of age.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question- when was this day held prior to 2000?
The correct answer is January 15th. In 2000, in order to create a three-day weekend, the holiday was moved to the 2nd Monday of January. When it was a single-day public holiday held on January 15th, it was often difficult for people to return to their hometowns. By moving it to create a three-day weekend, it became easier for people to return home.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
Do you have a day in your country when you congratulate young people who have just become adults?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!

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JapanesePod101.com
Tuesday at 6:30 pm
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Hello Listeners, is there a similar holiday in your country?

Japanesepod101.com
January 3rd, 2018 at 6:57 pm
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Hi Merly,


Thank you for sharing with us about these festivities in your country !


Looking forward to seeing you often here.


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team Japanesepod101.com

Merly
January 2nd, 2018 at 9:47 pm
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In thr Phlippines, yes we have for girls it's 18 y/o and for boys it's 21y/o. Their family prepare a birthday party for the debutant.

We don't have a national or dedicated day for incoming young adults.

JapanesePod101.com
December 8th, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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Hi Zrinka,

Thank you for your comment!


That's interesting! Do they dance a traditional Croatian dance or something?


Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com

Cheers,

Miki(美希)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Zrinka
November 24th, 2017 at 8:12 pm
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we sont have anything like that in Croatia. But i guess that they might be considered adults when they finish of high school. Some form big chains of dancing groups, some throw flour at random ppl, the others...well...they drink and make a huge mess. I did neither. I just went home xD

JapanesePod101.com
September 9th, 2017 at 3:58 pm
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こんばんは、Laeticiaさん

Thank you for your comment!


Oh, are you allowed to drink beer and wine earlier than other alcohols? That's interesting?

I like Umeshu, Japanese plum wine. It's sweet and tasty.


Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com

Cheers,

Miki(美希)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Laeticia
August 31st, 2017 at 2:55 am
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こんばんは。

私はドイツ人です。


We had something like coming of age day in 8 grade, though I was 14 back then. It was quite a big celebration.


In Germany you are allowed to drink beer and wine when you turn 16, other alcoholic drinks like wodka etc. are allowed when you come of age, that is turning 18. (I don't really like beer, it's too bitter. ?)

JapanesePod101.com
August 4th, 2017 at 2:16 pm
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Hi Alejandro,

Thank you for your comment!


Married women usually wear "留袖(tomesode)" instead. However, the rule is not so strict these days and sometimes married young women wear furisode as well.


Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com

Cheers,

Miki(美希)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Alejandro
August 1st, 2017 at 3:58 pm
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I was wondering, if the furisodes are only able to worn by unmarried women, what do women who already have a spouse wear in these ceremonies?

JapanesePod101.com
July 15th, 2017 at 2:37 pm
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Hi Axl,

Thank you for the comment!


That's interesting.

Do they wear special Russian traditional clothings at the ceremony like furisode in Japan?


Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com

Cheers,

Miki(美希)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Axl
July 11th, 2017 at 4:20 pm
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Here in Russia we become adults at the age of 18 and celebrate it on our special high school graduation ceremony. Though some people are still 17 y.o