The coming national holiday is most likely one of the most appreciated of the year—after all, we all need another small break after unwillingly easing back into our daily routines this week. However, the holiday has more meaning than just providing the weary with a long weekend.

Always taking place on the second Monday of January is Seijin no hi (otherwise known as “Coming-of-age” day), the occasion celebrates young peeps turning 18 that same year, thereby attaining the legal age of majority in Japan. The youngsters are now considered self-reliant members of the society, which means they have a right to vote, but it also means they gain (legal) access to smoking and drinking.

It is said that the tradition dates back to 714 and a young prince who celebrated his move into adulthood with new clothes and a new ‘do. Historically, coming-of-age days were held much, much earlier on (think 15 for boys and 13 for girls), with major hairstyle cropping for boys and teeth blackening for girls. Nowadays, the celebrations are a bit more tame, with boys dressed in suits and girls in beautiful, colorful furisode kimono (the formal wear for unmarried women).

If you don’t have any plans this Monday, make sure to take a stroll around your neighborhood as you’ll encounter hordes of gorgeous kimono-clad young ladies and dapper men posing in groups (and probably taking advantage of their newly acquired rights as they hit the bars for a few drinks).

Coming-of-Age Day in Japan

Monday, January 12

This article was updated in 2022 to reflect the age change from 20 to 18.