Bōnenkai: Forgetting the Old Year

Taken a couple days ago at Richmond Beach in north Seattle.

As my last post for 2020, I wanted to share a small feature of Japanese culture called the bōnenkai (忘年会) which are parties meant to say goodbye (lit. “to forget”) to the old year.

The last week or two may be filled with bōnenkai: work parties, parties with circles of friends, associates, etc. Such parties are really just drinking parties, a nice chance to get sloshed and get all the stresses of the last year out.

Obviously, this year was shittier than usual. Even before COVID, I had suffered a significant personal injury in January after slipping on some ice, had a major personal emergency in February and in March lost my job (not due to COVID, just crappy timing).

Thankfully, all these issues eventually got resolved and my family has been safe and sound since, and although I don’t drink at all,1 I understand the sentiment very much. Even if it’s just an arbitrary date on the Gregorian calendar, I would really like to put this year behind.

Our kagami-mochi this year (more explanation here) is a smaller version than what we normally get (the large one was sold out, unusually), but I am hoping that the Shinto kami, Toshigami-sama, might cut us a break this year. 😏

As for readers everywhere, happy 2021!!

1 I’ve chosen to undertake the Buddhist Five Precepts, and apart from a few fits and starts over the years, I’ve really tried to uphold them.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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