As well as being the start of the new business and academic year, April in Japan also marks the time when new graduates make their first forays into the world of full-time employment and many companies rotate their staff both to keep them on their toes and help them acquire new skills. It’s a fun, frenetic time of year, and everyone from kids in their new school uniforms to fresh-faced employees wearing crisp, black suits looks tremendously smart and presentable as they hurry to their place of education or employment, eager to make the most of their day.
In May, however, it all comes crashing down. Reality sets in and people start to realise that everything is just as awful as it was before, albeit with a few quirks and a shiny new name badge or lunchbox. The fire in kids’ bellies goes out, the twinkle disappears from new employees’ eyes, and they start to approach their work with all the enthusiasm of a pot-smoking snail going through a serious emo phase.
This, dear reader, is gogatsu-byou; the phenomenon that occurs every May and affects millions of Japanese to some degree or other.