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In most of the Western world, the days following Christmas is a time of relaxation and enjoying being with family.

In Japan, however, Christmas Day is still a working day for many salarymen and for those at home, the days leading up to New Year's Day are filled with busy work such as 大掃除(おおそうじ) oosouji (end-of-year cleaning) and cooking.

New Year's Day comes around and salarymen and homemakers alike can finally enjoy a day of relaxation with family. 

Busy work at year end

What is the end of December like for the salaryman?

Prior to New Year's Day, they are most busy wrapping up the year's workload, contacting and thanking clients for their patronage, and, of course, enjoying (and probably soon regretting) the year end 忘年会ぼうねんかい (year-end "forget-the-year" party).

But did you know there is a set time for when work officially ends? This is called:

仕事納(しごとおさ)
shigoto osame 

Usually, this is around December 28th but can vary if it falls on a weekend.

There is another phrase that is very similar: 

御用納(ごようおさ)

goyou osame

It also means "year-end office closing."


What's the difference between 仕事納しごとおさめ and 御用納ごようおさめ?

The only difference is 御用納ごようおさめ is used by official governmental offices which is set by law whereas  仕事納しごとおさめ is used by private companies and offices. The  御用ごよう is an Edo Period term used by the 幕府(ばくふ) bakufu Tokugawa government to instruct the court and various provinces when work was to be completed.

Today, government offices are closed from December 29 to January 3.

Of course, private enterprises can choose when to work and when not to work, but for most, the  仕事納しごとおさめ follows the government offices and stops work around December 28th and resumes January 4th. On the lucky years that January 4th falls on a weekend, work could start as late as January 6th!


Vocabulary

大掃除おおそうじ 

major cleaning; year-end cleaning


仕事納しごとおさ

(private enterprise) year-end office closing (usually December 28th - may be different depending on if it falls on the weekend)


御用納ごようおさ

(governmental) year-end office closing (usually December 28th - may be different depending on if it falls on the weekend)


仕事始(しごとはじ)

Work begins after New Year's vacation (usually January 4th)


大納会(だいのうかい)

the last session of the year; last trading day of the year


大発会(だいはっかい)

first session (trading day) of the year


年末年始(ねんまつねんし)

ew Year's holiday; period of time from the close of the old year to the start of the New Year


休暇(きゅうか)

holiday; day off


忘年会ぼうねんかい

year-end "forget-the-year" party


新年会しんねんかい

New Year's party


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