In Japan people tough out a grueling winter looking forward to a magnificent spring. April 1st is the beginning of a new school year, a new job, or a new fiscal year at work: a fresh beginning. To top it off, the canopies of enchanting cherry blossoms put everyone in a jolly mood.
The first week in May is Golden Week -- the week of holidays. Yes! A stretch of time off work!
But after that you come back to what can only be described as a letdown. Exhausted by the Golden Week crowds and the realization that the new job or school year isn't as exciting as you thought it would be is discouraging to say the least. And what do you have to look forward to? Only too soon the dismal rainy season will start in June.
After the high of April, many Japanese fall into May doldrums. So prevalent is this syndrome that it is medically diagnosed as Gogatsu-byo (May Sickness). It's characterized by irritation, depression, lack of focus, listlessness, anxiety, and sometimes even headaches and stomachaches. In short, everything seems like a drag.
So if you're working with Japanese in May, you might want to cut your colleagues a little slack and maybe send them a sympathetic but cheerful note. Above all, don't take their attitude personally -- and don't let May get you down!
Have you had Gogatsu-byo? How did it affect you?