Bounenkai – “forget the year gathering”

Bounenkai, another amazing excuse to drink among colleagues and friends.

A couple of months have passed since I joined my new Japanese company, monopo.
I discovered many amazing work traditions like gasshuku, or shimekai (“clothing gathering”, end of the month party to celebrate all the achievements) and one that was extra special: bounenkai.
忘年会 ‘s kanjis literally mean “forgetting the year party”, a gathering to put behind everything that went wrong or any bad feeling to be able to start fresh the year to come.

The tradition is quite old since it started in the 15th century during the Muromachi period, it was then called 納会 “achievement gathering” to express gratitude.

Even if it is not necessary at monopo where the hierarchy is quite flat, bounenkai is also known to be a time of bureikō (無礼講), a window where you can stop worrying about the super formal relationship between boss/employee/ age difference/ division difference.

Our bounenkai was extra special: first it was free for everyone which is not the case for most companies, and the planning was just flawless.

We spent the first part of the night on a boat, where we were able to witness a fresh tuna cutting show, and then eat delicious sushis made out of it.
After the cruise, we went for nijikai 二次会 (second party) in an izakaya (居酒屋), traditional Japanese bar where we drank while eating delicious small plates such as karaage (fried chicken), edamame (beans) and takoyaki (ball shape appetizer with octopus).
After that, we went for sanjikai (三次会) playing darts in Shibuya and I realised how bad the connection between my eyes, brain and arms are.

We finished around 4am and while some went for a last ramen, Masato and I went for the broke option until the first train: manga cafe.

It was a beautiful and memorable night, and even though I didn’t have any bad memory from 2019 to forget, I am super excited for 2020.

Wish me luck!

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