日本語 会話 (Intermediate level)
In the old lunar calendar, December was called Shiwasu (please refer to “Japanese and Moon” article). It is a busy month for many Japanese, not because it is a holiday season, but to complete the year on good terms. And they take some of the rituals seriously. Many department and on-line stores prepare a special sales section for year-end gifts called Oseibo. The gifts are not for Christmas (only 1% of the population is Christian) but are sent to mentors and individuals more senior in the workplace to express gratitude for their guidance throughout the year. People spend a good amount of money for high-quality seaweed, ham, wine, and other non-perishable goods. Why do the gifts tend to be preservable? Because the longer they last, the more the gift giver’s loyalty will be remembered. Personally, I think the tradition is a nuisance and getting old fashioned. The gifts are better to be delivered in person if circumstances allow. Most people have more than one mentor and superior to be thankful for, so you can imagine how busy it gets in December purchasing gifts, making diplomatic visits to present Oseibo, exchanging pleasantry over light snacks or even dinner, and repeat that with several other people.
With close friends and among colleagues, Oseibo would not be exchanged. Instead, they have a year-end party called Bonenkai that means “the event to put the year behind you”. Izakaya (Japanese bar and grills) are packed by Bonen-kai attendees, and occasionally, you will see drunkards on the streets that include well-dressed business women.
Many Japanese spend their time cleaning their house and office. This event is called Oosouji literally means a major cleaning. The significance of this event is to dust every nook and cranny in preparation for the new beginning (New Year). In western culture, there is a sense of continuation of time from December into the next year. In contrast, there is a strong sense of punctuating the year end with events like Oseibo, Bounenkai, and Oosouji that give the Japanese a fresh start to the New Year.
Happy holiday wishes and a wonderful New Year to you. Thank you for reading my blog!
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お歳暮(おせいぼ)/Oseibo n. a year end gift
忘年会(ぼうねんかい)/Bounenkai n. a year end party
大掃除(おおそうじ)/Oosouji n. a year end cleaning
ご来店(らいてん) n. "a visit" in respect tone
申し訳(もうしわけ)ございません "our apologies" in respect tone
になっております 〜になっている, has been decided on 〜. Here, it has been decided on "opening from the 20th".
残念(ざんねん)だ ナadj. 残念な+plain form of です disappointing
せっかく adv. making an effort to do something. Here, I made an effort to come.
のに p. although. Here, although I made an effort to come, (it was closed).
承(うけたまわ)って v. te-form of 承る to receive (order, request, inquiry) in respect tone.
ことにしたんです present plain verb＋ことにする: to decide on ~, Here, I decided to come. compare with another expression ことになる
催事場(さいじじょう) n. an event hall
足(あし)をお運(はこ)び an expression. 足を運ぶ to visit
仕方(しかた)がない an expression. can't do anything about it.
申し上(もうしあ)げております an expression in humble tone: We look forward to seeing you. 申し上げる alone means "to speak" in humble tone.