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moneh! moneh! moneh!

This is an entry about coworkers...and how it seems as if they believe that the more money you spend, the more fun you must be having...

...which is the complete opposite of how I feel when I give my money away. :b

If you're familiar with japanese working culture, you've probably heard of the enkai, or office/work party. It is as the article writer describes it, although there is always variation (I've only gone to one place where we could, if able, sit seiza). However, while the article expresses the writer's shock at a seat going for 5,000 yen ($41), I just had a party that would have cost me 7,000 ($58). Thankfully, unlike some of my young colleagues, I didn't have to pay because I was new to the school. I wanted to attend, but I was honest with them and said it was too expensive (I was going to Kyushu the next day!), and then they told me I wouldn't have to pay. I probably never would have anyways, but Japanese communication skills across cultures is for another entry...

Anyways, the emphasis on money and relations is sometimes grating. I wonder if it's an Asian thing, or perhaps it's simply the adult working world, because in Singapore, I've heard similar concerns from expats: disposable income fueling friendships and encounters to the point of expats without "expat packages" avoiding those who have one. In my situation, it's not that simple.

Imagine the tightass nobody likes in your office having one or two glasses and then screaming "I loooove you!*" in front of everyone. Imagine you finally being able to say to the dude you've been eying for months that you think he's pretty handsome (to which everyone will reply "Take him home! Please! Take him!!!*"). It's a time to let your hair down, to share a little bit more of your humanity with the office, to find out that your coworkers aren't as robotic as you thought. I sincerely hate missing enkai - I hate having to leave them. They can be really super fun and I appreciate the time to see them emerge from the mundane facade they don at work.

BUT WHY DO I HAVE TO SPEND SIXTY BUCKS TO SEE IT?!

In America, you're considered pretty damn cool if you can pull off a fun party cheaply, even among coworkers. There are people who're impressed with dishing out large amounts, but that's only 1) if they don't have to and 2) before they get drunk and then no one gives a crap. Also, there are also a shitload of activities for groups to do in your typical American city that don't break the bank. But that's NOT the case here! Nightlife takes dough...lots of it! If you can't get a swank hotel to cater your party, you're a failure, cheap, disrespectful. Money correlates directly to successful parties and successful workers. As an expat who's used to shopping at (sorry!) Wal-Mart and going on dates seeing a performance on the green, fireworks, or a movie, dancing at a house party or hanging out at a brewery...this is a painful reality. I love karaoke, but there's no guarantee that's an option, and bowling? Haven't seen a group of teachers doing that. Movies stop showing at 9pm. ATMs close then, too.

I can tell you that I'm one of, if not the most, highest paid teachers under 30 in my school, and yet at our "Under 30 Enkai" this week, it's frickin 50 US smackers just to drink WATERED-DOWN beer and sketchy food for 2 hours. And it's just a sit-down party - mingling across a table, no dancing, no party favors - verbal flirting only.

Sadly, it's not just enkai that are the victims of formalization at the expense (emotionally and financially) of others, and this isn't the only evidence for my hypothesis that money = fun/best.

There's a growing number of second virgin wives in Japan. One might think "you're kidding! Japanese women are beautiful. Japanese men are horndogs! Therefore...blah blah!" but...no. Those aren't even the issues, really. As with my previous entry, many men are still slaves/married to their work. Long hours = low libido = frustrated wives, but it's also the case as in other societies, long hours = late nights = libido only strong enough for the closest woman which is 99% of the time not a wife, or at least not his. Paying for sex or even the illusion of it or the dangling carrot of it is normal. Hostess bars, soap lands, etc, etc are all commercial and legally sanctioned avenues for people to pay lots of money for something they could probably get for free and without the bodyguards looming if they simply left work 30 minutes sooner. And these places ARE expensive (or at least one should shy away from one that's too cheap...). They're only opened for a few hours and they're very careful with clientele - you need membership sometimes. Love hotels - gods, I just spent the night in one that cost $85 - aren't as cheap as the expat is lead to believe. In America, the girl costs more than the motel. In Japan, it's...mainly the hotel.

BUT clearly, because you paid for it, you're getting The Best Blow Job in the Kanto Region.

Which leads me to why? Why am I being asked to fork over $50 for bad beer, okay wine, mediocre food, and stiff legs? What is it about this economically unsound practice that excites workers who...well...ride bicycles to the office? Why is it so shocking to have sex...uh...for free? Is it their obsession with appearances (also an issue that can make or break a woman not used to such whimsical judgments)? "See? I am spending money and now I can't afford a visit to the orthodontist. Aren't I a wonderfully selfless worker?" Or are they just victims of the entertainment/food and beverage industry? But then maybe that just means they're...um...uncreative when it comes to parties.

I don't know. In the meantime, I guess I'll just drink shouchu.

*Both happened to me.

Comments

( 2 said — say )
yeahdude
Oct. 18th, 2006 03:30 am (UTC)
Because HEAVEN FORBID everyone just goes to a cheap bar or something where every little thing is not SET into a schedule! In that case, people might have to pay for how much they eat or drink by themselves! *shudders* ;D

And as for the soupland/hostess clubs/pink salons... HEAVEN FORBID a guy leave work 30 mins early, put in some effort to be charming and witty while talking to normal girls for free, and then -possibly- -maybe- GET REJECTED. This is what some young, not bad looking salarymen told me. I couldn't imagine they would have too much trouble if they tried to get real girlfriends, but "hostesses are always nice and real girls might reject us" actually came out of their mouths.

It's no wonder the birthrate in this country is dropping.
thorny_rose
Oct. 23rd, 2006 12:17 am (UTC)
I asked about this at the enkai, and a group of teachers said that MAYBE some believe that money=fun, but it's generally that they believe they should spend money, period. Not sure why, but spending money is a good thing. *_*

But here's some hope: teacher said that foreign friend gave her a nicely framed picture of the two of them (probably going away gift), and that while it wasn't a Japanese style present, she still loved it because it was personal. So maybe we shouldn't be afraid to give gifts from the heart.
( 2 said — say )

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