Shigoto hajime (the first business day of the year) (仕事始め)

"Shigoto hajime" means working on January 2, for the first time in the new year. On January 2, people only perform their usual tasks formally with the wish for safety in their work and improvement of their skills during the new year.

In farm villages, people started hoeing paddy fields and making rice-straw ropes, performed a rite for tanokami (deity of rice fields and harvests), offering rice or mochi (rice cake). In mountain villages, people worshiped the god of the mountain, starting cutting trees. In fishing villages, people worshiped the guardian deity of a ship, starting seafaring. In merchant families, the first sale or shipment corresponds to "Shigoto hajime."

In government administration offices, January 4 is the day they start to work every year, called "Goyo hajime" (first business day of the year), and most companies follow this practice. Until the late Showa period, some people went to work in wafuku (Japanese traditional clothes) on the day.

[Original Japanese]