Japanese New Year Parties, Bonenkai and Shinnenkai


    Bonenkai (忘年会 in Japanese Kanji) is a Japanese drinking party, which is held among co-workers’ groups or friends at the end of the year (on December). 忘 (“bou”) means to forget, 年 (“nen”) means year, and 会 (“kai”) means gathering. It can most easily be explained as a year-end party.


    As its name implies (Japanese Kanji), the purpose of this party is to forget all of the troubles of the past year, and to look to the New Year and the new future ahead of them with hopes.


    During this gathering, people usually eat together, and consume large amounts of alcohol.

    From the photo above you can see many co-workers who gathered together, with a glass of beer in their hand. At that time, they usually say “Kanpai”, which means, “Cheers” in Japanese.


    After they forget all the troubles of the past year, it is the time to welcome the arrival of the New Year.
    新年会 (“Shinnenkai”) is also generally held among co-workers or friends in January. 新 (“shin”) means new, 年 (“nen”) means year, and 会 (“kai”) means gathering. It is most easily explained as a New Year party.


    First of all, the party is held to celebrate the New Year. People also make promises to each other to do their best for the whole New Year, and wish each other good luck and fortune. They usually say “Akemashite Omedeto”, which means “Happy New Year” in Japanese.


    Maybe in your country, there is a party to welcome a New Year filled with hope, too, but I can say that “Bonenkai” party is only held in Japan.