[Next] [Prev] [Menu]

Society Report 8/12/95

Clark discusses in some detail, in Chapter 6 of his book, the importance of drinking after work as a way to bond with fellow employees and relieve stress. He proposes that there are different bars for different classes of workers, and that to bar jump is a major social blunder. Whether this is true or not I cannot ascertain, since I myself do not frequent bars with my fellow employees.

However, I have been to a couple of official company nomikais (drinking parties) and have observed how they drink. The first such time was at my very own kangei-kai (welcoming party), where I had the opportunity to get to know everyone by watching them get drunk. Of course, if I had been a normal Japanese, I would have become drunk too. Here are a few rules I have observed by watching them at this and several other official company nomikais:

  1. Never pour your own sake. You must wait for someone else to pour it for you. Therefore, if you want your craving to be looked after, you better be looking after others' cravings, be popular, or of high authority.
  2. If you are a man, drink a lot. Drink as much as you can. If you can, get drunk. But never admit that you're drunk.
  3. All participants, except for special guests, must choose places such that there is a high concentration of company greatness (authority holders) at one end and a high concentration of expendible shain (company members) at the other. Between the ends spreads a smooth continuous spectrum of shain importance.
  4. Naturally, this rule implies another rule: All men at one end and all women at the other.
  5. As if it were a yearly trip to Mecca, all expendible shain must make an occasional trip to the other end of the room to fill the cups of their superiors. They are never summoned but they always know when to go.
  6. Lowlife shain aren't at a complete disadvantage during nomikais. They rarely have to pay a yen. The greatest shain there usually does most or all of the paying. So if you are careful enough to only drink with people who are clearly greater than you, you can always count on a free ride. Perhaps this is why the great ones get treated so special.