Welcome to Tokyo Meet Market

Nomikai: a drinking party

Posted on: March 4, 2009

While Nomikai is generally understood as a drinking party,  Gokon is more like a dating party.

Why?
Nomikai is held to mark of a wide range of events, including completion of major projects, attainment of set goals, foundation anniversaries, school sporting events, entry of new coworkers, and retirement of senior employees… or no reason at all! Nomikai is wonderful because they’re simply an excuse to drink, and in Japan, there is rarely a time where you need a reason to go drinking.

With whom?
Nomikai is a part of the culture of most places of employment, from schools, nightclubs, to just casual friends. Anywhere from three to twenty people usually participate in a Nomikai.

Where?
They are most often held in restaurants or izakayas (dining-bar), usually with everyone seated at one large table or occupying a separated section of the venue.

How much money?
In some places, it’s customary to pay as you go, but a lot of parties will order a set course with an all-you-can-drink plan (usually 2-3 hrs time limit). The prices for Nomikai participation may vary, but a lot of restaurants and bars in Japan advertises their dinner and dink set courses for Nomikai parties. The price for these courses vary anywhere from $25 – $100. But for $25/person, you can easily get 5-6 course meals and 2 hrs- all-you-can-drink beer party.

After Nomikai
The Nijikai (Japanese: 二次会) is the afterparty. After the main nomikai is concluded, the surviving attendees often move to different bars. As attendance is not at all mandatory for nijikais, they usually are comprised of groups of friends or people interested in doing a lot of drinking, including bar-hopping. Heavy drinkers go on to Sanjikai, the after-after party for more drinks.

Things you should know about Nomikai etiquett:

  1. Generally, one tries to avoid filling one’s own glass, but instead offers to fill others’ for them. This is especially true when there are variance in the participant’s rank, age, sex. This relationship is often reciprocal and the junior and superior take turns in filling eachother’s glasses. For example, Japanese women often pour drink into men’s glasses, and the men would fill women’s glasses (most likely trying to get them drunk)
  2. Another point of etiquette which differs from many Western business cultures is that it is quite alright to get drunk at nomikais. In the same vein, things said and done under such circumstances are not taken as seriously, are forgiven, or are ignored upon return to the workplace (or classroom, or club). Consequently, there are sometimes frank and emotional displays between coworkers, regardless of rank, which may not occur in a normal workplace context. This is a place Japanese people get rid of shyness and surface formality, and are allowed to he honest and frank.

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What is Tokyo Meet Market?

From the Western perspective, what goes on in the Japanese dating scene is really different and interesting! In this shy nation of Japan, meeting new people is almost institutionalized, dating and romance is littered with conventions that protect people from social awkwardness. What are dating conventions and rules in Japan? How do the shy Japanese people meet new people, develop affection, and express their passion? As I research and answer these question, I will write a real time report of what's going on in the Tokyo dating scene, or the "Tokyo Meet Market" here in this blog. I hope you enjoy my blog and a trip around Tokyo Meet Market with me!

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