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The spring has arrived! Flowers are blooming with vitality, colour and fragrances, the children are running around, laughing in the parks, birds are singing, and the cats are in heat, calling loudly as they mate. (I’m not kidding, I woke up to the cats this morning LoL) But of all the spring signals we see in Tokyo, the most famous is the beautiful cherry blossom.

Cherry blossom season coincides with the start of Japanese schools and business year, making the flowers a symbol of a fresh new start, it also symbolizes friendship. New start, friendship, warm weather, park… they all point to hanami party, a picnic party under the blooming trees. Hanami, which literally means flower-viewing , is a Japanese symbolic custom in spring. This custom of hanami has its root in the Nara Period for the aristocracy to hold events of enjoying the beauty of flowers. It is a way to appreciate the cherry trees which have opened, to celebrate the fresh start in spring.  In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night, another reason to party, to drink, and meet new people.

Hanami is a serious business in Japan, providing important social opportunities. Friends and co-workers gather in great numbers wherever the flowering trees are found. Thousands of people fill the parks to hold feasts under the flowering trees, and sometimes these parties go on until late at night. Love fever is contagious around spring and magical love can materialize out of thin air. Hanami, is such an occasion to take the Meet Market out of the restaurants out into the outdoors.

As for me, I’m planning on a hanami parties with my close friends 🙂 Hope you are enjoying the spring time too!

I'm not kidding... it gets REALLY crowded for hanami parties

I'm not kidding... it gets REALLY crowded for hanami parties

Romance meter: 21%
Conclusion: We are too old for this LoL Guys, you might be able to entertain college girls with “low quality frat party” stuff, but not us… Or did we just go to a wrong party? hmm… May be so. The real learning was “don’t expect too much from a party organized by 40 single guys living in a single male dorm. Whether they are teenagers or in their late 20’s they all want the same things”

Genre: Saturday night dinner + drink party
Show time: March 14th
Running time: 180 min
MPAA rating: PG-13 (because of the comments made on the earlobes)

Guys team: 40 guys who all work for the same company and live in the same place in a dorm
Girls team: Four 20-something working women (me and my friends) and 40 college senior girls LoL


My friend got invited to this Saturday night White Day party by a guy she met in a gokon. She extended the invitation to her friends, and we all got excited because it is a large party organized by bunch of men who all work for famous Japanese company and live in single male dormitory, no better place to meet potential bachelors!

It was 4 hrs before the party started when we were all told about the dress code for the party. “Girls, please wear a dress,” which raised suspicion in all of us attending the party. Who are they to tell us what to wear? We were gonna wear a dress anyway, but being told to wear a dress is another thing all together…. but we all put on our dress, wondering how good the party must be with the dress code and all.

After few drinks in a pub nearby, the four ladies arrive at the party with bit of excitement. We paid the $40 entrance fee which includes the drinks and the food, and the entrance to a party full of potential bachelors. Let the party begin! We were first introduced to the young newbies in the company and yes, they were very young. They shyly introduced themselves to us with their senior members teasing them. But then, we looked around and we realized most of the women are even more young looking than these boys were. In fact, most of the female participants were college students.

That is when the party officially began with the announcement by two guys to gather around and pay attention. The men made a small speach and we gave a toast to “this fabulous evening lots of new opportunities to meet new people” and then the guys started their short comedy sketch. It lasted about 10 min with the private jokes and some nuditiy, well, to be specific, the two guys stripped off their shirts to show some painting on thier nipples. I forgot what the storyline was but I remember I wasn’t laughing.

30 min into the party, we were told to split into the assigned groups of 5-6 people a table. But the assignment was poorly done in terms of the balance in the number of female and male in each team. My table only had 1 male and 5 females. Then the game of “earlobe touching competition” started.

The earlobe touching competition

  1. The women feel the earlobe of each man in the same group
  2. The women vote on the man with “the best earlobe” from each group
  3. One woman who can identify the earlobe of the chosen man is selected
  4. The couple, the man with the “best earlobe” and the woman who can identify it, enters the competition
  5. The men from all the teams line up in random order
  6. The women from all the teams are blindfolded (with red silk)
  7. The blindfolded women touch the earlobes and identify the earlobe which belongs to her team mate
  8. After the feeling session, the women are told to comment on each earlobe and makes the guess
  9. The woman who guessed right is the winner
  10. And it is repeated for the second round …

Fortunately, since my team consisted of only 1 male, I could even escape from the first task to touch the earlobe. Pfew, thank God! So I became a quiet observer, with lots of free drinks and pretty good food. People were busy with the earlobes so there were plenty of food and drinks for me, with some decent mature men to talk to 🙂

The game went on and on and on for almost 2 hrs and when the game was finally finished, it was time to vacate the restaurant. And since it was a White day (reversed valentine day on which boys give girls present), the girls were given cookies and chocolates from the boys and also received discount entrance fee to the after party.  The college girls gladly follow the boys, and us ladies went the different way, got on a taxi and went to a bar where there are real men who don’t force us to touch their ear lobes.


1) about the college girls

I knew that college girls, when they start thinking about job hunting, start to wonder if they should work or get married. (yes, I’m serious) “are you going to look for a job or are you going to accept the offer from your bf?” they ask eachother. In fact, I have even heard a very romantic proposal phrase “would you accept a job offer to work for me?” apparently, some rich college kid asked his college girlfriend during the time of job-hunting. Anyway, my point is, even before they graduate college, some girls already start looking for potential bachelors who will hire them (as wife) so they can spend their free time without worrying about work or money after college. Unfortunately, this was such a party, a marriage hunting party for the college girls. And they are more than willing to touch the men’s earlobes and make some pink comments on them to give them bit of pleasure, in exchange for stable peaceful life with hard working husband. and for the men? well of course, don’t men always love the younger helpless innocent girls?

2) about the party game

Whether it’s Gokon games or party games, they are all about getting to know eachother, encouraging mingling and some physical touch… but this one was all-so-ovbiously-sexual, especially the red silk eye mask and the comments gilrs make on the earlobes… that it was a turn off for the normal people who grew out of college spirits, even the college girls. And the fact it went on and on for such a long time, almost like we payed $40 so we can touch the ears


exhaustion. I was already becoming tired of TMM but this party really exhausted me. And I smoked so much during this party that I actually decided to go on cold turkey, which is good. Aha! There are always goods that come out of bads.


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

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.

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!

Cherie’s tweets

  • is so sad to go to farewell party of her bestfriend leaving to the US. Another beautiful funny successful girl leaving Tokyo!! 10 years ago
  • Ate a bowl of toshomen for lunch, super delicious! Check it out: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g314410/ 10 years ago
  • getting warmer in Tokyo! The spring is just around the corner which means... love in the air! 10 years ago