Nomikai: This Is What Happens During An After-Work Drinking Session in Japan
No, it's not a requirement but the nomikai culture isn't just about drinking.
Nomikai is a casual drinking event that is common among the Japanese especially between colleagues. This event is usually dinner combined with drinking sometimes done as a company, or with colleagues and friends. It usually starts with beer as the kampai (cheers) drink.
Although this is a dinner-slash-drinking event, it doesn't require you to drink alcohol. Everyone is free to drink whatever they prefer—even if it's a non-alcoholic drink. Usually, the purpose of this event is to establish new relationships or to build rapport between colleagues.
Here, we will share with you some of our reasons why we recommend joining a nomikai the next time your sempai (a senior co-worker) invites you.
Build a deeper relationship
During work hours, expect that most Japanese will use their time as efficiently as possible to finish their deliverables on time. This may be the reason why the Japanese are often tagged as workaholics. They rarely talk about themselves nor anything personal in the workplace. They simply do what needs to be done. If you want to know your colleagues better, nomikai is the perfect set-up as you will be able to chat with them freely.
With that, you’ll find that Japanese are more relaxed and open with any topic when in nomikai. You might be surprised to find a different side of them. Someone who would not talk a lot in the workplace, may turn out to be very chatty and funny outside the work environment. This is also a chance to find someone that shares the same hobbies and interests as yours.
Nomikai is always helpful to better understand your colleagues and maybe help you make new friends.
Expand your network in company
In nomikai, you have a chance to meet a lot of people. More often than not, someone from another division is invited. This gives you the chance for making new friends and understanding how other divisions in the company work. Oftentimes, knowing someone from another division becomes an advantage, especially when you need help from outside your team later on.
Aside from expanding your network, being able to talk and listen to different people is a great means for us to learn something new.
Try something new for your palate
Izakaya or Japanese pubs are the venues for a nomikai. There are different kinds of foods served at izakayas, and there are a lot of hidden gems waiting to be uncovered. You can add it to the list of things to look forward to when going out for drinks!
Tip: Nomikais are best set up on weekdays as prices get high on weekends beginning on Friday for some restaurants.
And with that, don’t be surprised though if most Japanese go back to their work-focused self the following day of your nomikai. Maybe it’s because of a hangover from drinking too much after a fun night?
(22 May 2019)