The holiday season is always a tricky one for newcomers to Japan.

If Christmas is the Western world’s big day to spend time at home with family, that’s what oshōgatsu (New Year’s) is in Japan. Arguably the most important time of the year for most Japanese people, oshōgatsu activities typically include journeys long and short back to family homes, food and drinks together and late-night (or early-morning) visits to local shrines.

It might all seem simple, at first — unless you’ve found yourself this December romantically linked with a Japanese partner who has invited you to join in on their family's at-home oshōgatsu festivities.