徳島 英会話教室 

Bonenkai tomorrow…

Today is the last day of the school year for me. Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be working six half-days over the winter holiday at the Board of Education (BOE). Tomorrow is also my school’s big Bo-nen-kai (Forget the Year Party), also known as the grand-daddy of all Japanese enkais. An enkai is the Japanese term for a celebration or party, commonly used to describe social gatherings among co-workers or organizations. However, Japanese enkais are extremely unique and are often more genuine than reserved company parties back home. The evening usually starts off at a nice restaurant, but in the case of my junior high school all-staff party tomorrow night, it’ll be held in a hotel ballroom. In any drink setting in Japanese culture, whether two people are drinking or in a large party, its extremely important to wait until a kampai (cheers) is said before drinking. After an official toast of the evening by the head person at the party is made, followed by a group shout of kampai, eating and heavy drinking may then commence. And when I say heavy drinking, this is probably an understatement. If my small 6 oz. glass should ever fall below 3/4 full, a refill is surely in order by Japanese standards and often comes while I’m still in mid-sip. Besides drinking, its also customary to refill someone else’s glass from time to time, and definitely after your’s has just been filled. Dinner usually takes about 2-hours, which is immediately followed by an optional nijikai (second party). This usually involves karaoke and more drinking. A sanjikai and yojikai (forth and fifth party) are not unheard of either and may involve bar hopping or a late night eatery. Although enkais are expensive to attend, usually $40 – $70 USD, they are never worth missing. There is perhaps no better way of nurturing one’s working relationship in Japan than to attend. Every enkai I’ve ever been to, I’ve had a great time. Moreover, the parties serve as a great opportunity to see another side of the people you work with everyday. Although that side maybe one some would rather forget having put on display the next morning, its genuine of someone having a really good time. Fortunately for the Japanese and unlike in the west, there’s no need to worry about water cooler gossip in Japan, as hardly a word of the party is ever mentioned the next work day.

Happy Holidays to all my family and friends back home!

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