When Hiroyuki Kubota’s boat party for Japanese government bond traders and strategists restarted last autumn after a pause of several years, there was reason to celebrate.

The veteran group was suddenly back in vogue. The world’s top hedge funds had begun to focus on the Bank of Japan’s reversal of its ultraloose monetary policy, shaking up the once sleepy backwater of global finance by hiring a steady flow of traders with knowledge of Japan’s sovereign debt. Volatility in Japan’s ¥1.142 quadrillion ($7.1 trillion) government bond market was surging to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Gossiping over sake and tempura, the party of mostly Japanese-speaking men in their 50s and 60s was so engrossed in conversation that few ventured on deck to observe the Tokyo skyline, said Kubota, a former JGB dealer who began the quasi-annual event in 1998 with members of his online chat room for government bond traders.