Sleigh bells have rung and Santa has packed our stockings with gifts, so what's left to do until New Year in Japan? Well, we've got BONENKAI! Maybe many have already heard about bonenkai but to anyone who doesn't know, here it is.
What is this bonenkai?
It's a term used to signify "end of the year party". The term means "forgetting the year party".
Well what do you mean "forgetting the year" then?
It mostly means, "Hey its end of the year so let's just forget everything and have fun and be crazy as one can be since we can't party everyday". Since Japanese culture doesn't have many parties in their custom and everyday life, these once in a year events are concerned as a major party where one can unleash their craziness and everyone can talk to the others without the senpai-kohai (seniority based) relationship.
What do they do there?
The people attending bonenkai mostly drink, drink, and drink. But they don't "just" drink they "call" for people drinking. Calling at the person drinking is a rather new (and not necessarily welcomed) custom which started in 1985. Back then it was "ikki" which meant "chug".
Another ritual in bonenkai is "Dashimono", something like a talent show. Stores like Tokyu Hands and Don Qui Hote offers party costumes even though it's NOT Halloween and ever wonder when do people wear these? It is used at drinking party, usually but it is mostly used in this time of the year. Stuffs sold which is popular are costumes to act like popular comedians of the year, or smaller accessories like a beauty pageant ribbon with funny messages written across or fake glass, mustache and or wigs.
So you've walked through the Christmas lights around the town, you've seen couples holding hands around the town, now is the time to walk through the streets filled with over-drunk people sitting down, and to see the groups of people meeting up at the train station. December, until 12/31, Japan will go wild.