Land of New Years


We are now officially in March; at least on this side of the dateline. It is a time to reflect on the year that has passed as we get ready to wrap things up, as well as ponder the future as we get ready to start the New Year…

You may be asking, “What on earth is he talking about?” Don’t worry, I understand why this might cause confusion. Hopefully, it will all become clear by the end of this post.

Japan is the land of new year’s celebrations. First we celebrate the conventional Western New Year’s Eve (御晦日), based on the solar calendar, on December 31st. Just one day later, most families commence the New Year’s celebrations (御正月) for a few days. Once everyone has returned to work and things are getting underway, most work groups, societies, and circles of friends will have new year parties (新年会), much like the year-end parties (忘年会) in November and December. Wouldn’t you agree this is quite a bit of celebrating the new year?

Wait, don’t answer yet. Traditionally, the Chinese lunar calendar was used in Japan. We have a strong Chinese community in this area and in February (usually) we have a banquet to celebrate the lunar new year (春暖花開). Bear with me for one more step.

The school year ends in mid-March and commences in early April. This precipitates the need for banquets (宴会) in March and April related to the old and new school years. Last year they were sad because the previous instructor had already left the country and couldn’t be at the party. This gives me the hope that I will be invited to the party in April. Some schools also celebrate the beginning of second term, after the long summer break.

So, the school year is wrapping up and I will be starting my own school soon. As I juggle the schedule changes this month and plan for next month, it feels very much like New Year’s. Schedule changes are a little chaotic, but the work load is pretty light so I will try to get a number of posts in this month. Late in the month I will be consuming my unused vacation and can’t promise to be near a computer. Hopefully, in April I will have my own high-speed umbilical and should have no excuse for sparse posts.


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