Nomikai 飲み会

Japanese salarymen on the town

It's not uncommon to see groups of salarymen - employees of Japanese companies recognizable by their suits - at night in the city streets, cheerful and rosy-cheeked, emerging from a bar or izakaya. For some, the evening can end with a nap on the doorstep of a building, or staggering onto the last metro train. This is often the aftermath of having participated in a nomikai!

A business institution

Nomikai literally means "gathering to drink". Employees of a company, often those working within the same department, are invited to meet up after work to drink together, usually to celebrate the completion of a work goal, the departure of old colleagues or the arrival of new ones, or even celebrate someone's birthday. A nomikai can also be suggested any time by a manager, an invitation that's difficult for employees to turn down!
Read: The Japanese salaryman

Salarymen (and office ladies) at a nomikai in Kumamoto

The party continues

A nomikai brings all work colleagues together. The group then often breaks up into smaller groups, this time employees who are closer friends will continue the evening at another izakaya or bar. Called a "nijikai", meaning "second meeting", it's an after-party of the party, where employee presence is no longer mandatory. The blood alcohol level of participants tends to rise much faster at this party than during a nomikai. In some cases there's even a "sanjikai" or "third meeting"!

Read: Izakaya

A salaryman passed out on the metro after a nomikai...

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