Taking another turn away from talk about pens, ink and paper today. This is a big party season in Japan, though not particularly related to Christmas. Year end is traditionally a time for parties in Japan, a time to laugh about, moan about and cheer about the events that did or didn’t transpire over the course of the year. No doubt there is some moaning in particular corners, but for the most part it is a time when friends and co-workers loosen belts, let down the hair and go all out to have an evening of good food, good fun and lots of beer. It’s an evening for toasts and short mock ‘speeches’ reviewing what was good about the year drawing to a close. Without exception everyone has a good time and goes home either leaning on a friend’s shoulder, or wobbling to the train station. On one point the Japanese are very serious, and that is about driving after one of these parties. No one drives to year end parties, but depend upon trains to get them safely there and back. Something you have to admire about the Japanese, their determination to stay out of the driver’s seat when having even a single glass of beer.
Tonight was the night for a group of my co-workers to get together in Shinjuku for a Chinese hot-pot evening. Not the first time we had chosen this particular restaurant, but our second, following a memorable evening of food and drink there last year. Everyone everywhere is no doubt familiar with Chinese cooking, but there are varieties, and the speciality at The Copper Bowl (a facile translation) is spicy hot meat & vegetable soups, cooked at the table. Servers bring large tureens of seasoned broth to the table, along with platters of beef, pork and shrimp and vegetables, while everyone at the table lends a hand to do the ‘cooking’ as the waiter or waitress ferries more platters and more drinks to the table. Pretty much an ongoing feast for two hours. Usually I am not a big fan of Chinese food, but I make happy exception for the food at The Copper Bowl. Both times at this restaurant, by the end of the party I was able to get up from the table without feeling stuffed and overfed, but completely satisfied with delicious food. To be honest, I’m not sure I can say the same about my intake of beer and grapefruit sours. But wisely, like most others I too wobbled to the train and not the car.
Toward the end of the party, several people offered comments on the year passed, our work together, and the satisfaction that almost everything worked out as we’d planned and hoped. Always good to share with friends the feelings of work done to satisfaction.
As a note of interest to readers unfamiliar with Tokyo prices, there were twelve people in our party, all eating and drinking as much as they desired for two and a half hours, and the bill at end of the evening was $875.00.