This Wednesday we had yet another company party. I never told you about them and thought you might be interested about a typical party in a Japanese company.
Firstly we got a company mail, which told us to reply in case we intend to attend. This is because having many employees even within one team, it is often hard to find a place to host them all.
The most common reason for making a party in our company is both to welcome new employees and say farewell to leaving ones. In this case this meant the welcoming of three new interns: Juan from Colombia, Marco from Italy and Mathieu from France and one new regular employee Wang from China (Ph.D. at Tokyo University). But also a farewell to Alex from Quebec and Bert from Peru. This time there was a third reason with some middle bosses wanting to apologize for a very boring work, everybody had to do for one week.
Middle Bosses yeah, even within our small team the company structure is quite hierarchical. There is the big boss Shozakai-san (社長), two team/department bosses Owa-san and Miyazaki-san (課長) a couple of middle bosses, mini bosses and the employees and interns. The Mini-Bosses are usually in charge of one or several interns and the development of their corresponding languages. The middle bosses are supposed to coordinate between them and decide on language wide projects. Our 課長, Owa-san (尾和さん) finally is in charge of the language modeling team and 社長 Shozakai-san of the Pattern Recognition branch of Asahi Kasei.
The parties are usually held 1 hour after the common end of work hour (18:00 o'clock). This means by no means that on a common day everybody would stop working at 6 pm, regular employees will continue far longer from time to time, some people, especially new employees everyday. New employees sometimes feel bad because of their lack of experience and thus want to compensate with extra unpaid over hours. So over hours are unpaid? No, this is a common misconception, over hours can be entered on your pay check and you will be compensated for them. However! not everyone enters her/his over hours, even when having worked overtime several times. Again especially new employee s don't feel right about postulating compensation. Some of the longer employees however do work over hours and do enter them in their pay checks.
Like this there is never on no day a time, where more than 3-4 people would leave the office. Everybody leaves at some point after her regular working hours.
In case of such a party, people will usually come directly to the party, with a bit delay of the Shachou (社長), because of being more important and workers who really have to work longer, because of important projects. In our case we gathered this time in a Bar&Dining place. Common is always Tabehoudai (食べ放題) and Nomihoudai (飲み放題). Eat&Drink as much as you can. This is actually very cheap in Japan. Each had to pay 2000 Yen (15 Euro, 18 Dollars) in spite of the fact that the welcomed and farewelled people do not have to pay.
So we had a merry dinner and thanks to the kind help of some of our Japanese employees the kitchen agreed to make me a salad, so I could also eat something ^_^ (Oh and there was a vegetarian pizza, I could also eat). At dinner we would talk about all kind of stuff, work related or unrelated, often about language and culture, since our team is very special with people from so many cultural backgrounds (With every intern being responsible for a different language, she or he comes from a different country).
people leaving the company will be given a little farewell present (usually a little fan), from left to right: Owa-san (our team's boss), Alex (Quebec), Bert (Peru) the two guys leaving
After the merry meal, some decided to go home, while most went on to the almost culturally obligatory Karaoke. Japanese Karaoke means going to a Karaoke place, where you will be given a soundproof chamber with television sets (for the lyrics) a mixer with several thousand saved songs, wirless computer terminals to choose songs from and two micros. Soft drinks and Ice Cream is free for alcoholic drinks you can again get a Nomihoudai 飲み放題. So everybody would sit in this little room and passing the terminals around, they would decide about songs to sing. It is good to choose songs everybody knows, which however is a bit difficult in our special case ^=^.
Our big boss Shozakai-san sang three songs, and even our a bit shy and introverted Teamboss Owa-san would sing a song. Everybody laughs a lot, drinks a lot (or eats a lot of ice cream in my case) talks a lot and usually has a lot of fun. Usually everyone is encouraged to sing at least once. However this is not as easy as you might think. For my case at least, while I love singing very much, I never tried it in accord with a song being played. So my Karaoke singing actually sounds horrible and I was asked to please stop the first time I tried it (another party). I guess I have to practice a bit till next time.
Usually the Karaoke part is open end and in this case would go as late as 3 am with everyone including the Big Boss showing up at work the next day, completely sober as if nothing had happened. Crazy!
For me I left at 1:30 am, since I was awake for 22 hours at this point, standing up early to be able to call my parents in Germany (time lapse).
In the end Shozakai-big_boss would generously pay the horrible amount of money (you don't even wanna know how expensive this Karaoke is) for everyone and the party people would slowly try to find their way home to their beds.
Yeah and that's it for our company, who considers itself traditional Japanese. However while for our company such parties happen every now and so often, when new people arrive or old ones leave (which is more often than on other companies, because of the 1 year internship program), other companies will do similar parties more frequently.
taking the incredible hardships of going to a party to report for you
here you can see half of the Karaoke room and people
big boss Shozakai-san sinning with a wig
even our team's boss Owa-san allowed us to place a wig on his head and posed for pictures :)
Most Karaoke bars provide a room with costumes, as you can see we made good use of that
that's me spiderman
I looked like a fat sack of potatoes in this costume :/