Saturday, December 19, 2009


The end of the year is bonus time (yes, professors in Japan get bonuses!) followed by company parties to celebrate the bonuses. Loved that bonus. The parties . . . not so much. In Japan, drinking is a social mandate and I was a light drinker. My trick was to hold a drink, sip from it (or pretend to) whenever a kampai toast occurred, and not let the liquid level fall below the halfway point of the glass. If you drink below the glass's equator, servers magically appear to refill it and it's rude not to swallow a few more sips. But whether or not you drink, late December is the friendliest time of the year. Christmas decorations abound, red lanterns glow, street stands sell yakitori (shishkabob) late into the crisp cold nights, and total strangers sing karaoke together.

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