Regarding the June 27 article “Drink responsibly when you’re out with friends this summer“: In 2007 my hometown’s temperature reached 40.9 degrees Celsius. It was the hottest place in Japan. At my age, a well-chilled beer is absolutely indispensable for overcoming such sweltering weather. I think a lot of people enjoy going out for drinks with their school friends or coworkers because of the opportunity to catch up on gossip, enliven their own conversation and sometimes grumble.

On the other hand, some drinking parties entail pressures, especially when eating grilled meat with seniors from your workplace. The youngest person has to pay attention to everything around him, known colloquially as kikubari.

First of all, he should find an eating place that’s well spoken of and set a participation fee. Next he should place the order that day. Other rules for the youngest member are to keep filling glasses with beer, continue grilling meat all the time and pass menus to people who don’t have something to drink. In addition, the youngest person should hold his glass in a lower position than those of his seniors during the toast.

How to behave in these circumstances is important if working adults hope to get a good evaluation as a person. These social customs seem to be viewed as a peculiar spectacle involving respect for seniors. It must be an amazing sight from the point of view of foreigners. The Japanese feel obliged to act for other people even when nobody tells them how to act.

A clinical psychologist is quoted in the article as saying that drinking “is the one time in Japan you can let loose and say what you really feel and it won’t come back to hurt you.” I felt a little sad after reading that, but I cannot dispute the opinion. It is a matter of common knowledge that Japanese tend to be passive and concerned about what others think; we have to create good relationships between coworkers.

maho kawachi
tajimi, gifu

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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