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The dreaded party season: Some embarrassing office party mistakes

16 Comments
By Jessica

The end of one year and the beginning of other is party time in Japan, particularly for workers. Before the winter holiday, many offices have a "bonenkai", literally a “forget the year party,” and after the holiday, there are "shinnenkais", or new year’s parties. Some offices even do both, and generally attendance and copious alcohol consumption are compulsory.

Of course, as we all know, adding booze to the office dynamic can be a recipe for disaster — or hilarity, depending on your point of view — so Japanese online commenters have shared their most embarrassing office party stories for your edification or amusement.

The most commonly reported embarrassments are vomiting, memory loss and terrible hangovers. Hangovers might not seem like a professional issue if you can suffer safely at home, but sometimes the parties are held on work nights, so if you turn up to the office looking rough or try to call in sick, everyone will know why.

Says one worker, “I got caught up in the spirit of things, drank too much beer and ended up vomiting. Not only did my coworkers have to look after me that night, but the next day I couldn’t get any work done.”

Another recalls, “At the end of the night, just as we were bowing and thanking our bosses, everything I’d eaten and drunk came right back up.”

All that drinking can also loosen tongues, especially in conservative Japan where people keep an awful lot to themselves much of the working year. Many people reported saying things to their boss they later regretted. Although bosses often say that the parties are a chance for people to let their hair down and for management and employees to mingle without worrying about rank, it’s better not to get carried away.

One man was speaking with his bosses and started referring to them as "anta," a shortened and even more extremely casual form of "anata" — which despite meaning “you” is itself a word that few people use during respectful conversation, opting to use a person’s name instead. One boss angrily shot back, “You could at least be bothered to say ‘anata.’”

Another casually took his boss to task over some perceived error and had a very tense work environment for a while after that. Oops…

Other people get a little more creative in their drunken antics.

One man recalled how he mistakenly carried a restaurant’s beer mug all the way home, holding the handle like it was his briefcase. He returned the mug the next day and apologized for making off with their glassware during the busiest time of the year.

One woman says she thought she would be funny by flashing her panties and throwing a peace sign in the group photo, not to mention yelling “Yaaaaaaaaaaay!” while she was at it.

Even that pales in comparison, however, to a woman who stripped down to her underwear to sing an AKB48 song for her office, men included. She didn’t even remember doing it until a friend showed her pictures some days later.

So if you’ve got a "shinnenkai" of your own to attend, think of these stories and keep your dinner down, your clothes on, and your tone polite and you might still have a job for 2014.

But just to show you not all drunken shenanigans end badly, let us share one more story with you.

Says one man, “I wasn’t really paying attention when I picked up my cell phone to go home. I’d picked up someone else’s by mistake. When I returned it, we discovered he’d taken mine by mistake as well! Even now, three years later, he’s still a friend I go drinking with.”

Source: Naver Matome

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16 Comments
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Ha! We all have a few of those stories from our 20s, do we not? In the west the Christmas office party has the same flavour. There's always bound to be some rapscallion getting up to no good and making a funny monkey out of himself! We tied a few good ones on in Tokyo and Osaka back in the day, it was freer and looser back then, people talked more and showed more emotion. I remember putting a co-worker in a taxi after he had lost his tie. Boy was his wife angry! It was a gift for their anniversary and I think that guy slept in the kitchen for a month. Ah, those crazy bonenkai days. There were always lots of office staff ladies "retiring" around August. One of them at my office even married the wrong guy - back then it was a big thing and they moved halfway across the country! I always wonder what came of them, I know he had dreams back then, but hey, don't leave your best lady around a fella like moi!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The best one I have to tell is when I was back home years ago working for a company that hired a conference room in a zoo for the evening after the zoo had closed for a summer party. One guy threw up on the CEOs shoes which was bad enough, but another guy got so drunk he set off around the zoo on his own and was spotted climbing over a wall and heading towards the chainlink fence for the big cat enclosure. The entire board of directors had to chase around the zoo after dark looking for him. Police were called, it was a nightmare. All we could all do was stand on the terrace listening to the roaring noises and try and figure out in our own inebriated state if that last roar sounded like a roar of "yay! Fresh meat!" or not.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The nice thing about such an office party in Japan is that most of the alcohol related mishaps are genuinely forgotten. You can strongly complain to the boss, do all kinds of stupid things (sekuraha obviously excluded), vomit, fall asleep on the floor, and you can really be sure nobody would make a big fuss out of it the next time they meet you. Perhaps a joke or two about how "strong with alcohol" you are.

This is one of the reasons I like Japan so much...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I used to work for a company which is a joint venture with another Japanese company and during a company party hosted by the Japanese management I attented, I was incessantly harassed to do something crazy. I was very shocked to see during the party, how some of the usually samurai-looking senior Japanese officer acted in an inconceivable manner.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One man recalled how he mistakenly carried a restaurant’s beer mug all the way home, holding the handle like it was his briefcase. He returned the mug the next day and apologized for making off with their glassware during the busiest time of the year.

Would love to see his guy making his way home.

One woman says she thought she would be funny by flashing her panties and throwing a peace sign in the group photo, not to mention yelling “Yaaaaaaaaaaay!” while she was at it.

Even that pales in comparison, however, to a woman who stripped down to her underwear to sing an AKB48 song for her office, men included. She didn’t even remember doing it until a friend showed her pictures some days later.

Next time I'm gonna get the secretaries drunk...

Joking aside, (yes, it's true I tell you!) I'm not a heavy drinker but I do enjoy the camaraderie in Japan.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

What I meant was, I was incessantly hustled into doing something outrageous, anyway it was really quite fun to see a group of 50+ year old samurai dancing on karaoke tables. Haha...I always wonder if people in Japan also get the same version.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why in the World do you think they call it "Bo" Nen kai? It is time to become boketeru. Never will I mix hard drinks with beer in new year's eve.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I am a non drinker, but I really do enjoy these type of parties :), I will also offer to take people home myself (apparently, being a 'non-drinker' usually means that you're boring). I like taking in the relaxed atmosphere, laugh with the ones who are laughing, hug the ones who for some reason, alcohol made them become very hug-able and clingy and sing with those who are singing, but that's my limit. No headaches after!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I gave up on office parties a long time ago. They're dangerous. But Qamar has the right idea. Don't drink, and watch the fun unfold. It can get hilarious, that's for sure. I only hope the hug-able and clingy ones were of the opposite sex.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Trevor- haha true! And the more I watch, the more I convince myself that I should never drink! I also like teasing them later (sometimes I tend to be a bit evil like acting as if I don't wanna say and stuff). Hmmm, nope, they are female like me (and my friends or acquaintances ) and thank heavens..I live in a small place, if people would see men hugging me, god only knows what kind of rumours would arrive to my family's ears!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The nice thing about such an office party in Japan is that most of the alcohol related mishaps are genuinely forgotten.

I used to live next to a Maltese Scientist in Itabashi who just couldn't reconcile the drunken shenanigans of a party the night before with the straight faced and 'it's all forgotten' demeanour of the next day. The poor bloke was genuinely exasperated by the duality of the Japanese personality/behaviour in this respect, and he just couldn't handle it. He actually cited this as the reason he would be leaving Japan as soon as he could.

He never looked comfortable in Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Tamarama- I know that guy!! Wow..so that's why he was back in Malta so fast hmm! But that's quite a rare quality to encounter...all my friends drink and """"forget"""""" (or claim that they do). Well with my Japanese friends, I only attended one party and they weren't satisfied until I did drink a shot (dunno what it was, they said it wasn't a heavy drink...not for a non-drinker), and yes...some of the most shy were totally letting lose and actually spoke to me, in English! The next day, the shy ones went back to not-speaking to me even after they told me half of their life the night before, kinda broke my heart until my bestie told me that they forgot yesterday, so mentally just skip a day in the events.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I will never forget my stunning rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in the karaoke bar. In the months that followed, quite a few of my fellow workers quit, and I've always wondered if that was the reason ...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Qamar

Is that for real? I can't remember his name now - nice guy though. He spent a long time telling me that he just couldn't handle exactly what you described, that people wouldn't speak to him and were very shy and quiet, but were life long best friends and chatty when on the juice at party time. It was too much of a cultural difference for him, the whole thing seemed to do his head in.

Small world!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yup! Small world, and even smaller country here haha!! Yes, he is a very nice guy. I remember that at first I was incredibly shy of him also because he was like a senpai for me. I see! Yes well in here usually when people get drunk, they kinda spend the next day talking about how cool it all was haha. (I don't know many people in Malta, I'm not very sociable, but when it comes to Japan or Japanese things, it is quite a small circle of people who are interested in them and we kinda got to know each other or some of us stick together. Social sites help even more. You figure out who are those who like Japan when you start posting about Japan and they comment and like, and those who don't who instantly de-friend you!)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

C'mon Tessa! Is your voice that bad? You should hear me do that song! You'd sell a million records compared to me, I'm sure! My only good karaoke renditions are 'Woman from Tokyo' and 'Maggie Mae'. Good chuckle!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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