All You Can Drink, Japan Style
Blogger: Miranda Sieg
I realize I just posted like a week ago, but Japan is so awesome I just want to share more!
Yesterday a bunch of the Tokyo International University (TIU) students put on a welcome party for the Japanese Studies Program (JSP) students. We went to something called nomihoudai, which means all you can drink. About 60 people showed up, maybe 15 of whom were Americans (and one German), and crammed into a room with four tables to eat, drink, and yell bilingually for two hours, for one low price of 2300yen, which is about $25.
That sounds like it could have turned into a night of debauchery and hospital visits, but Japan treats alcohol and drunkenness very differently from America. In America people would have been throwing up and breaking things one hour in. In Japan however, alcohol is used as a form of bonding much more so than in America. After work businessmen go out and get drunk together almost every night. Japanese drunks are generally rather jolly and sociable, not belligerent or depressed. So anyway, after Japanese yesterday I didn't have class. After getting lunch from the supermarket...
This Milk Tea is Addictive
...me and a bunch of other JSP's hung around in the lounge and talked to TIU kids. We were approached by a bunch of freshman and talked to them for something like four hours. Like us, their English speaking level varied extensively person to person, but I'd say overall the least adept English speaker still spoke better than most of us JSPs spoke Japanese.
Anyway, after eating a somewhat rushed but still delicious (and deliciously cheap!) meal at a gyouza spot (they serve other things too), some of the Japanese students went home, but still others accompanied us back to the school, where we met up with a huge group of TIU students and headed for the Izakaya (bar-ish).
There, all 60-so of us removed our shoes, put them in cubbies, and then squeezed into one huge room at the back of the restaurant with tatami floors, raised benches, and four tables. People kept arriving for that first hour and somehow we made space, but that room got pretty hot. Also, in Japan it is legal to smoke indoors. I haven't really had a problem with it before and had sort of forgotten that was a thing, but people lit up a couple of times last night (my hair still smells like smoke). In such a big group it wasn't that bad though.
It was waaay more crowded than it looks
We ate bunch too. I'm not really sure why but towards the end this, rather high-pitched girl informed us we had to eat more. Maybe we have to pass a certain number of dishes to get the special price? I have no idea. Anyway, I chatted with a bunch of freshman, most of whom weren't confident enough in their English to attempt full conversation, though they were all pretty good. Later in the night though a couple of upperclassmen wanted to practice their English conversation. All I can say is, I hope I get as good at Japanese as they are at English because, no matter how much they denied it, they were all really good.
So, for something called 'all you can drink' nomihoudai isn't about the alcohol at all. Heck, I ate a bunch of good sashimi and drank peach tea. Nomihoudai, at least for me, was all about meeting TIU students and making new friends. That's what this whole abroad experience is about, and so far it's been great!