Photo/Illutration “New adults” take photos in front of the lit 1964 Tokyo Olympic cauldron on Jan. 13 in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture. (Reina Kitamura)

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KAWAGUCHI, Saitama Prefecture--It's not every day you turn 20 and for Sayaka Shiotani, this year's Coming of Age Day was even more special as she was one of four lucky “new adults” chosen to light the flame of a cauldron used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It really made me feel connected to the Olympics,” Shiotani said, after igniting the cauldron at a ceremony here on Jan. 13 to celebrate those turning 20 in the nation. Lighting the cauldron is a traditional ritual that begins every Games.

The cauldron, crafted by local casters in Kawaguchi, returned to the city in October after being displayed in areas hit hard by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. It had been kept in the former National Stadium in central Tokyo until the facility was demolished to make room for the main venue of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Since October, the cauldron has been on display in front of JR Kawaguchi Station and is expected to move to the new National Stadium in the spring.

As of Jan. 1, Japan had 1.22 million 20-year-olds, according to the internal affairs ministry.