Thursday, December 27, 2007

I drink to forget...

There's one Japanese tradition that I'm pretty fond of that is occurring now when businesses are getting ready to close the shop over the important New Year's celebration. Companies often gather together their tired employees and hold, so called, "Bounen-kai".
The basic premise of this little event is simply put a year end party and it doesn't contain any too strange ingredients, usually a dinner of some kind (the type of place is irrelevant, it can be held in a Mexican restaurant or Japanese sushi restaurant) and liberal amounts of beer and similar beverages for those that like that. In my previous life, working in a more traditional Japanese corporate environment it could become a bit too much with me having to participate in events all over Japan with different branches, customers, distributors and God knows what. In the world of management consulting it is not like that.

What I like about this tradition is the bleakness of the event. The events themselves are usually pretty fun, but definately depends on the crowd you are working with etc. But "Bounen-kai" translated into English means something in the vein of "Party to forget the hardship of year". So everyone gathers together and drink, have fun and forget all the trouble from the year so far. It's not about celebrating the year or anything positive, it's all about forgetting the old year.

So, ok, when you had your Bounen-kai and gone on the New Year's vacation. You come back and the there usually is another event waiting around the corner; the "Shinnen-kai" which basically is held in similar format as the Bounen-kai but with the premise to gather up the strenght for success in the coming year. Now, since I've been living and working here in Japan for over six years now, I've been through these proceedures several times and everytime we have a Shinnen-kai toasting to a great new year, but at the end of it we always end up with the Bounen-kai trying to forget all about it...

The total pessimism about this event somehow appeals to me and with a little effort I've managed to gather together a few of the remaining souls in the office for an ad hoc Bounen-kai, a coalition of the willing, if you will. We will do our best to forget about the year so far!

1 comment:

Martin said...

Lol. Great, just great!

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