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Painting of a demon's face and a bag of beans.
Work Year
  1. Beginning of Work Day
  2. Business Year and Transfer Season
  3. Cherry Blossom Viewing Parties
  4. May Day (May 1)
  5. May Sickness
  6. General Shareholders Meeting
  7. Obon Holidays and Homecoming Rush
  8. Recreational Trips
  9. Year-End Party
  10. End of Work Day
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Workers watch as a priest keels over a piece of lumber.
A scene from a ceremony that marks the beginning of work day.
Photo from International College of Crafts & Arts, Toyama.
Beginning of Work Day
Even though both the business year and the school year begin in April and end in March, businesses and governmental offices call their first business day in January The Beginning of Work Day or Shigoto Hajime. The Beginning of Work Day is usually around January 4th. This custom dates back to before the introduction of the Western calendar and Western-style business customs. At that time, people took a day off on the first day of January and then returned to work around January 2. Now on The Beginning of Work Day, businesses hold a small ceremony; executives and employees get together and celebrate the New Year. During the ceremony, the top executives may also talk to employees about New Year’s resolutions for the company. Prefectural governments or municipal governments also hold similar ceremonies. For retailers, their first business day is called The First Sale of the New Year or Hatsuuri. Most large retail stores and many small shops have discount merchandise or prepare something special for New Year’s shoppers. This New Year’s sale is traditionally held on the second day of January or later. However, recently, because of increased competition from large retail stores, many stores have begun to hold their New Year’s sale on the first day of January, staying open for business without interruption from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day.
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