In the last few weeks of the year in Japan many, if not most, companies, clubs and societies will be organising their bonenkais. Everyone will get together in an evening either as a whole or in small departments and relax with a beer in hand and look forward to the new year to come. There will be speeches and maybe even games and, reassuringly, someone will imbibe a little too much of the holiday spirit.
It sounds like a Christmas party and indeed there are many similarities but there is one major difference that makes it a critical event in the corporate year. The bonenkai is officially your last chance to bitch about anything that happened during the year gone by. And if you don't say it now, forever hold your peace. And so it is a way of wiping the slate clean, setting a new start for the following year. Sometimes I think many of us could benefit from this as a tradition. Have a beer, it's time to let it go.