What do Japanese workers do at Bonenkai 忘年会(Japanese year-end party)??

Japanese modern lifestyle

Hello. I’m Yuko. It’s December and 2020 year is running out.

Today’s topic is Bonenkai!

What is Bonenkai for Japanese workers?

In December, “Bonenkai (year-end party)” is held mainly by office workers in Japan.


Bonenkai is written in Chinese character as “忘年会”. That means “a party to forget the year”.
A year-end party is a party where everyone drinks as a summary of the year and an employer appreciates the workers who worked so hard for a year.


In non-religious Japan, there is a tendency to incorporate events of any religion.

For example, since December is the month of Christmas, Christmas parties are also held. But for office workers, Christmas parties are too hilarious and are not often held.


Therefore, there is an implicit reason that the party to have meals and drinks with colleagues at the end of the year is the “bonenkai”, and the party to gather with friends at the end of the year regardless of work is the “Christmas party” or “bonenkai”.

Mandatory participation..?

A year-end party can be an opportunity to get to know a colleague who doesn’t talk much, or a private friendship with a colleague who doesn’t talk about work.

But it’s not that all the participants are looking forward to it.

Here is some reasons that the participants are reluctant to participate.

  1. It’s stressful to talk with people who are not close to each other
  2. You have to pay
  3. Time is taken

Especially the reason No.2…

Japanese bonenkai costs about 5,000 yen each time.
There are many office workers who have bonenkai every Friday because they have the party in various groups or departments, and it is a problem that it costs tens of thousands of yen for parties that they are not looking forward to.

Japanese people who value harmony often pay tens of thousands of yen to attend parties that they do not want to go to.

However, due to COVID-19, most year-end parties are expected to disappear this year.
It may be possible to have a true “year-end party” where a small number of people who are really close to each other and have a fun conversation while having a favorite meal.

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