Yesterday morning I visited my elementary school to join in with the opening festivities. In truth I spent much of my time running around being chased by dozens of children. We eventually took a break to make our own onigiri (rice balls with filling), my choice of fillings being flaked fish and salmon, and sat down to eat them with chunks of tomato and cucumber with miso dip. Mmm, oishi deshita!
In Japan it is traditionally to have a party, or enkai, for new staff members. Typically these are an opportunity for people to let their hair down and go a bit crazy, the bottom line being that what goes on at the enkai is not mentioned afterwards. No doubt many people have gotten in trouble before. It is often mentioned that coworkers 'open up' at these parties whereas they can be shy or retiring in other social or work situations.
My enkai was held last night at a Japanese restaurant bar in Iida. Plates upon plates of food were brought out, my favourite being three types of katsu (deep-fried cutlet), kagi (chicken), and edamame (a type of pea). These were washed down with plenty of Asahi beer, sake (rice wine) and Argentinian red wine. In Japan it is traditional to fill a cup or mug when it looks a little empty, so you can imagine how the party played out. Thankfully my colleagues all seem genuinely open and amiable anyway, so it didn't get too crazy.