Thursday, February 18, 2010


お久しぶりですね。(It's been a while, hasn't it?) I haven't been updating for a while, so I'll go back in time a bit for the next few entries.

After school wrapped up in December, I went to my first company party. These 宴会, or enkai, are company drinking parties. I'll tell you all about it in today's entry, "Shall We Drink?"

I was a bit nervous about attending one as I don't drink. I don't mean that in the "Oh, I seldom drink" sense, like most people. I don't drink at all. Don't get the wrong idea. I have no problem with alcohol; I just think it tastes vile. It's a little odd coming from the granddaughter of a bar owner, but, oh, does it taste vile...

I'd learned all about these shindigs in my Business Japanese classes, but, of course, such information is only a loose guideline; how do these things pan-out in real life? In addition to worrying about protocol for socializing with the workplace, I was still on my crutches at the time. "What am I getting myself into?" I wondered.

To my delight, part of the fee for the party included a bus chartered by the school. It was coming to pick me up about 1/8 of a mile from my apartment. I hobbled to the stop on my four legs and waited. The bus ride there provided a big surprise for some of the wives of my co-workers. Suddenly, a foreigner was on the bus. One of the wives started talking to me...well... sort of... She kept asking my friend questions about me in Japanese, assuming I didn't speak the language. Despite my answering each question and her understanding, she still didn't seem to get that I spoke it. Finally, I interjected that I was perfectly capable of talking to her. She was a bit surprised, but then her husband joked "Oh, well, you can speak Japanese, but I don't know about my wife..."

Although I was initially nervous, the party turned out to be really enjoyable. After paying our entry fee (equivalent to about 50 US dollars) we sat down to dinner. I was quite surprised, as I had expected there to only be drinking. The meal consisted of several small gourmet dishes. I learned that I do not like escargot. To my surprise, dessert was a slice of watermelon. As Japan has essentially turned cake design into a fine art, this was startling. Consider the affair's admission fee; for fifty dollars, there should be cake.

After the meal, three of my male co-workers burst onto the stage in drag. The site of them in shiny, silver lamé dresses, blonde wigs, heels and makeup sent the room into hysterics. They sang one song for us, then ran off the stage. I only wished I had my camera.

The next of our festivities was a "game." Since they pulled out a Bingo caller, I assumed that is what we would be playing. Their idea of "game" was much better, however. They simply called our raffle ticket numbers until each attendee won a prize. I was given an extra one and was quite touched.

Next, we had a bit more drinking and time to chat. I had a nice time with co-workers I see only briefly in the day-to-day. Suddenly, we were all called up to sing the school song, which closed the evening. I'm glad to have not missed the event.