New Year in Japan (正月 Shōgatsu) is by far the most important holiday in Japan. Let’s learn Japanese Shōgatsu traditions. The beginning of a new year symbolizes a fresh start and the ability to leave everything behind. This is sometimes celebrated with a Bonenkai (忘年会) party in December to “forget the year,” and put the troubles from the past year behind you. While they are fun parties with lots of drinking, they are not part of the official Shōgatsu celebration, which lasts from the 31st of December until the 2nd or 3rd of January. As New Year in Japan is such an important holiday, there is a lot of preparation to be done leading up to it.