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Word of the Week 3: Bonenkai

It’s universally agreed that December is the busiest month of the year. The old Japanese lunar calendar referred to December as “Shiwasu” or “A Time when Teachers Run”. In truth today most people end up running out of work early (ok, on time!)- to party!That is something shared universally too- and embodied in the Japanese tradition of Bonenkai!

End of Year To-Do List

In general the Japanese are a diligent, committed bunch so December is a time for cleaning your house in preparation for the New Year. It used to be that New Year was the only real break for the women-folk as they did not have to cook during the five or seven days of holiday when people ate pre-prepared food known as Osechi- a compendium of beans, baby anchovies, herring eggs, egg rolls & sweet chestnuts all vested with their own meaning and all designed to keep you alive while the shops & restaurants closed their doors.

Hey- I thought you said Party.

I did, didn’t I. So when all the cleaning and the food is prepared what’s left?


The Meaning of forget actually!

Meaning, “Forget the Year” the Bonenkai party is a way to celebrate the New Year in advance and on repeat. Bars are booked out, people go wild, speeches are made, games are played and generally the country tends to go Bonenkai bonkers!

While not particularly connected in anyway to Christmas as of recent many parties tend to have a Christmas theme (perhaps a santa theme is closer to the truth) but no matter what the bonenkai have the deserved reputation of being the wildest parties of the year. He should know 😉

Perhaps from experience you will agree that somethings while they may be Japanese are truly universal!

Hiccup! What was the word of the week again..anybody?


Author: Declan Somers

Thanks to the people of Japan and the efforts of a UK-based telecoms company Mobell/Mobal am happy to assist in providing a hot school meal daily for kids in Malawi, Africa through a Japanese registered NGO- Seibo.

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