Sometime after the new year, a lot of Japanese companies hold the Shinnenkai or New Year Party. This is a much quieter affair that is supposed to celebrate friendship and team and teamwork. Like all Japanese parties, it is timed to the minute and the theme is “I love you guys. Let’s have a great and productive new year and let’s never forget to forget what happened at the Forget Year Party and never talk about it again. Cheers.” (Something like that.)
In my experience, the Shinnenkai is the only time I’ve seen a break from traditional party food like sashimi, cooked fish, and some kind of meat (a technical term) but even those had issues.
At one party we had Chinese food, including shark fin soup (which is way overrated for the price and the amount of cruelty involved; give me fresh tuna and dolphin any day).
At my favorite party, thoguh, we went to an Italian restaurant in Nou-machi that is one of the best restaurants in Japan especially if you’re there during crab season. Our menu included different kinds of pasta, including the restaurant’s specialty of crab sauce pasta, and lobster thermidor. We also had wine instead of beer, although some beer was served and I kept having to explain that I’d much rather have the Samuel Adams and not the Budweiser because Bud isn’t worth six dollars a bottle. Actually, very few beers are worth that much.
My principal wasn’t a big fan of the food as he enjoyed the traditional Japanese party dishes. He also, somehow, managed to track down a bottle of sake, which I shared as well.
There were no silly games and no men dressed as ballerinas, just a couple extra speeches.
Actually, I think the men dressed as ballerinas would have been more interesting.