With December less than two weeks away, Japanese companies are beginning to make preparations for their annual bounenkai (end-of-year) and shinnenkai (New Year) parties. Even if they’re the kind of people who sometimes duck out on after-work drinks with the boss, most Japanese employees are painfully aware that skipping the biggest corporate celebrations of the year is tantamount to career suicide.
Because large-scale events usually require more space than your average drinking party, many Japanese companies have recently been moving away from typical sit-down enkai banquets and are holding more Western-style events where staff are encouraged to move around freely and interact over a few drinks.
But according to a recent survey, these Western-style work socials are overwhelmingly unpopular in Japan. Here are the top seven reasons why.
R25, a business website catering to businessmen in their late 20s, recently surveyed working men and women between the ages of 20 and 30 to ask which style of party they’d rather attend. Out of 200 respondents, 84.5 percent said they preferred traditional sit-down type parties, while only 15.5 percent said they preferred the Western-style stand-and-mingle type.
The results were a little surprising considering mingle-style parties avoid the typical Japanese drinking party complaints of getting stuck next an annoying co-worker or having to pour your boss drinks all night, so what exactly were workers so unhappy with? Let’s have a look.
7. There’s a chance you’ll be standing by yourself, all alone.
At parties where people are constantly moving in and out of conversations around the room, less social partygoers often find it harder to get in on the action. In contrast, sit-down style festivities usually have arranged seating to keep anyone from becoming the odd one out—you may not be thrilled with the seating arrangement, but you’ll always have people to talk to.
6. It’s difficult to approach people while they’re having a good time.
We have to agree that “Can I pour you a drink?” sounds slightly less awkward when there’s a bottle of booze on the table in front of you and you’re already seated next to someone else, not to mention it’s easier to keep up with the conversation and jump in when everyone isn’t spread out across the room.
5. It’s hard to eat while drinking.
Without anything to rest your glass or plate on, juggling both at the same time can be a real struggle. The potential for spilling your beer on your boss’s expensive suit is also higher.
4. You get drunker (or at least it feels that way).
Apparently without a table to keep you grounded, it’s easier for inebriated mishaps to occur, like in the case of one respondent who said he fell over drunk at a mingle and ended up breaking his glasses, or some of these other awkward moments.
3. You can’t drink as much as you’d like to.
Maybe fearing the episode above, people are less likely to push their limits. Although considering how many times we’ve had to sidestep puke on a train platform or the sidewalk left behind by people who drank a lot more than they should have, we’re not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing.
2. You never get to eat your fill.
Most sit-down parties portion out helpings of food for each section of the table, so everyone has equal dibs when it comes to serving themselves. Naturally being involved in a conversation away from the food table or constantly having a drink in your hand can complicate things.
1. Your feet start to hurt.
Our final complaint today might sound silly at first, but when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. If you’ve been running around the office all day, and likely in heels if you’re a woman, the last thing you want to do is stand for another two to three hours on your worn-out feet. Japanese-style socials usually allow you to sit down and take a load off, but if you’re standing up all night, your dogs are bound to be barking. I suppose you could just throw your dignity out the window and change into more comfortable footwear…
We have to admit that’s a pretty solid list of reasons in favor of the traditional sit-down drinking party.
That said, if you didn’t want to be there in the first place the standing type does have its advantages, as one commenter noted: if you’re looking to break away from the party early, it’s a lot easier with a large room full of people mulling around!
How about all of you Rocketeers? Which style do you prefer?