Those of you who know me know that I'm not much of a drinker. I'll take the occasional fruity drink here and there, but rarely do I ever drink anything stronger than that. So you could imagine my fear while being prepped on the idea of Nomikais - aka drinking parties. They are a huge part of Japanese working culture and as the newest teacher in the English department, it was necessary that I attend my first Nomikai.
On Thursday night we arrived at this tiny hallway next to a bigger restaurant and my fellow co-worker, sempai, overall tour guide and lifesaver Steph said "yep, up this way." We walked up three flights of stairs all lined with Sake bottles and arrived at a nice room with a few big tables. We took off our shoes and shuffled our feet over to the Yakitori table where a few of the English teachers were already waiting. The moment I sat down all my fears dissolved because of the kindness of my coworkers... so warm, friendly, and genuine. I had no room for any anxiety. Praise God.
I told them previously how I don't like beer, so they ordered me the sweetest drink on the menu which tasted more like orange juice than anything...and the yakitori (grilled chicken) started flowing out of the kitchen. The food was amazing, the drinks were good, but the company was even better.
Although Nomikais are centered around drinks and food, the main purpose is to bond with your coworkers and enjoy a nice relaxing evening. A few people gave toasts and they wanted me to share a few words...which I mostly thanked them for making this quite the adventure already. The teachers in the English department are some of the funniest people I've ever met and they made sure to show their humorous side at the dinner table; cracking jokes, telling stories, and asking me a variety of questions like, Amie wa, seafood is good? Amie wa, have you ever tried horse meat? Amie wa, what did you study in university?
They had me laughing the entire night and I couldn't stop smiling knowing that these people would become my family here in Japan.
This was our crazy table and I would really hate to be the dishwasher at this restaurant. The food was really amazing though and I seriously think we ate chicken 15 different ways haha - who knew?
After our two hour party we walked downstairs to the cool air and snapped a photo to commemorate my first official party. I am thankful for these people, for the amazing school year ahead, and for showing me a proper introduction to the world of Japanese Nomikais!