Another Crazy Enkai
Trip Start Jul 29, 2006
28Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
One of the really interesting things about the Japanese enkai is the sudden transformation that the Japanese make once they enter the party place. At school, these very same people are really quiet, reserved and serious. But once they stop foot into an enkai, before the beer has even had an opportunity to flow, their guards are shed, and they metamorph into loud, crazy party animals! It is really humorous. Teachers who never look my way at school and who seemingly don't even acknolwedge my existence welcomed me to the party with a loud, "WELCOME CARRIE!!! YAY!" when I walked in. I didn't even know they knew my name, let alone any English
Now this enkai was the equivalent of what a Holiday Staff Party would be at home. At home, there might be food, drinks, music, and dancing. Here, however, in classic Japanese style, there were food, drinks, microphones flying, and bizarre Japanese games afoot. Being impaired with a language barrier, I though I was safe in my little corner and wouldn't have to come up to play any games. Time, however, would soon prove me to be terribly mistaken.
After a good few rounds of drinks and a few rounds of what appeared to be some sort of a Quiz Game, I see a Japanese English teacher from across the room (one of the few staff members I can communicate with fairly easily) motioning me to get up. He began writhing playfully in what appeared to be an impression of "The Twist" dance. He says to me, "You can do this one! You don't need Japanese for it." Perplexed, I say to him, "The Twist?" He says, "Yes, go!" Mind you, this all happened in what felt like the blink of any eye and, before I knew it, amid loud cheers and enkai chaos, I am standing once again, in front of a room, having no clue what is expected of me. Strange, yet fond memories of months ago began dancing before my mind. The only thing I knew here was that the staff had been divided up into 4 teams (7th grade teachers, 8 grade teachers, 9th grade teachers, and school administration/staff). I was playing for the 7th grade team. They all had their fingers crossed and were rooting for me. I believe I am supposed to be doing something related to the Twist. Then, I am handed a red baseball cap and two rubber balls. Yep, I have no clue how these items are connected to the Twist. The emcees are giving us directions all in Japanese. One of the emcees was another English teacher from the school, so I look at him pleadingly and say, "Please tell me what I am supposed to do." His response: "Just do what everyone else does." Oh boy. Everyone puts on the red baseball cap, and I follow like a good little confused Japanese Quiz game player. Then, everyone puts one rubber ball under each armpit and, once again, I follow. So here I am, wearing a baseball cap and trying to balance two rubber balls in my armpits; still having no clue what to do from here. Then, music starts and I hear, "Ready, Go!" I look desperately around for any clue as to what this game actually is. All I can make out is that it appears my opponents are attempting to take their hats off. So I casually and easily take my hat off in all of about 2 seconds. Then I hold my hat out and say, "Now what?" Suddenly, everyone on my team begins cheering loudly and getting up to slap me high fives and congratulate me. "Number 1!!!!" They are all shouting. Apparently, I won the round. I gathered from this scene that the game was to take off your hat without letting the balls drop from your armpits. Although, to tell you the truth, I'm still not sure. But I won and it was a moment of fantastic confusion and joy :-)
Later on in the evening, I was in a happy little haze when I look up again to see what's going on with out little Quiz Game. I see a poster with nine dots on it and some Japanese written on the poster. I had a sudden flash of a popular riddle I used to give to my students in America to get them to tease their sense of perspective. Maybe you know the riddle. You have 9 dots (3 aligned rows of 3). You must connect all 9 dots using only 4 lines, without lifting your pencil off the paper. Anyhow, I don't know what propelled me, but as soon as I saw these 9 dots, I raise my hand wildly and stand up saying, "I know this one! I know this one!" I hadn't been able to read or hear any of the directions, but I believed I knew it. I ran up to the front of the room, where the round was already underway, where participants from every team were all struggling with the puzzle. The player from my team handed me the paper. I draw my four lines and turn it in. Thank goodness I was right, because I was totally working on a guess as to what this question even was. Once again, I was able to take one for the team! Yay! I was so happy I got a chance to participate and, better yet, help out my team members :-)
The highlight of the evening, however, was yet to even come. The last round of the Great Japanese Quiz Game was a virtual boxing match. What could a virtual boxing match be? Well, do allow me to explain so you can get as much of a kick out of it as I did. Right there, in the restaurant, staff members set up two little toy boxers in a toy boxing ring. Apparently, these boxers motions were directed by lifesize, mechanical game boxing gloves that people could actually wear. So staff members from opposing teams would get up, put on these gloves, and then start boxing each other in the air. Their connected toy boxers would really be punching each other until one was knocked out. And the other was the victor. People went nuts! There were secretaries, teachers, custodians, and even the Principal in this boxing ring. I have attached a video clip of one of these rounds to this entry, just so you yourself can get a small taste of what it means to attend a Japanese holiday party.
So that's my story of my Japanese Holiday Enkai. I hope you all have a very Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year. My family is arriving tomorrow in Japan and we will have an opportunity to do some travelling around the country. So next time, I'll share some photos and stories from beyond my small city of Shizuoka.
All the best!