Nice to meet you♪ and Japanese drinking customs

Hi! Every one:) Nice to meet you. My name is Yuria Tajima, I’m junior in Kwansei Gakuin University. From last August to this May, for ten months, I had studied in Nebraska Wesleyan University as an exchange student. Studying and living in another country with students from several countries was a memorable experience! I’m glad to contact and share opinions with you guys, students from other countries. This time, I’m going to introduce Japanese drinking customs.When I was in America, I heard that college students don’t drink with professors. In Japan, it is quite common to drink with professors.When we, Japanese college students become junior, students who have same interests study making a group which is called “ZEMI” in Japanese( seminar in English) to research for graduate thesis.Our ZEMI members study about English education.Our ZEMI has a drinking gathering once in a month, of course with our professor.Sometimes, we drink with seniors. It is a good time to talk with them to ask questions about anything we don’t know about research, college life and job hunting (we will have a job hunting from this December) and have a good time.This picture is a first time drinking gathering after I came back from USA.


It was a good time to know each other drinking and having fun!

And Japanese drinking style is a little bit different from one in USA.First, Japanese drinking age is 20. And in most of Japanese drinking restaurants, we are not required to show our ID, like in America. In convenience stores, we are required to do so but I have never been asked to show my ID when I went to restaurants.And We Japanese enjoy small meals with alcohol. There are lot of kinds of drinking restaurants which is called “Izakaya”. Basically, most small meals served in Izakaya are similar,however each Izakaya has its own characteristics. For example, Toriki and Torinosuke which are  located near the nearest station from our university have a lot of kinds of yakitori, char-broiled chicken.

Here are Toriki’s menu


Along with this kind of Izakaya, there are several Izakayas which have different types of characteristcs.

And  I heard that American drinking places don’t have free refills system though, Japanese Izakaya has free refills system. It costs around 30 dollars in Japan. When you come to Japan, try it☆


• Sekiguchi, T. ( 2007).  Japan Inc. Is Drinking Again.  Time

• Alecci, S. (2010).  Japan: Dorincommunication, when drinking alcohol is a social oblication. Global Voices.


9 responses to “Nice to meet you♪ and Japanese drinking customs

  1. はじめまして。サマンサです。
    From what I gathered, it seems that Japanese colleges and businesses place much importance on communication between employers and employees, superiors and juniors, etc. However, the cultural practice of keeping your true feelings to yourself and maintaining an appropriate social atmosphere hinders communication. Thus, going out drinking and eating with a group provides a relaxed environment where discussions of all kinds – personal and work-related – can take place that would not occur in the professional workplace. Would you say that my thinking is accurate?
    When it comes to American culture and students drinking with professors, I have not heard much about this. I know of some especially friendly teachers who may host parties and invite their students to their house, but I am not sure that I can explain why students do not typically go out drinking with their classmates and professors. I know that I, personally, tend to keep my school life and social life separate. It could also be as simple as the fact that America’s legal drinking age is 21 – one year later than in Japan – so perhaps students graduate from college before they have many chances to go drinking with their teachers.
    But I think that it is a great thing for Japanese people to have opportunities like this to get to know one another, to interact and communicate, and to have fun!

  2. Hi there =) I’m Alicia. I have never really enjoy drinking alcohol neither am I from the USA. Nevertheless, i guess it’s pretty interesting when you get to listen and learn about the drinking culture from other countries. I am from Malaysia. Legal drinking age is 18 i think… but legal age to enter clubs/ pubs/ etc. is 21 years old. Also, when purchasing alcohol, unless your looks really make people suspicious that you are underage, otherwise they would just let you purchase alcohol. Having said that, going to clubs and all they will still check your ID if they think you are not sufficient of age yet.
    We have a few really nice and cool lecturers that will hang out with students but some aren’t as friendly. So i guess if we are lucky to meet these lecturers who are friendly and open-minded and enjoy spending time with his/her students then we do go out for a meal in a group at times. =)

  3. I get the same impression as Samantha as to how drinking is used to create a more relaxed social atmosphere and make people more open to communication. It seems to me that this is another aspect of Japanese culture that emphasizes the importance of the group and that people in the group must get along well with each other. Having people get together for a fun night of drinking may help them work better together when they go back to their work environment. In this way, blending social and work environments may be beneficial to work productivity.

    This is definitely less common in the US. I think one possibility for this is that we may tend to put more separation between social and work lives – and drinking is often a way to go out and forget about the stress of classes. There is less emphasis on the group harmony of a class – many teachers do stress the importance of getting to know the other people in your class, but teachers themselves don’t usually organize out of class activities for this purpose.

    Even when teachers do invite students to their house, I think that one of the reasons they don’t invite students to drink is that they don’t want to put pressure on everyone to drink. It seems that in social gatherings like this in Japan, there is more of an expectation that everyone takes part in drinking – again emphasizing group harmony.

  4. Drinking age being 21 in america makes it so that you cant even drink with your professors even if they wanted to. Also drinking in america is more something you do when you want to ignore work or school, its a way to relax and hang out with your friends and at least in a few occasions people drink a lot and would probably not want their teacher to see them that way. I do know however that when my sister was in law school should and her study group probably like your ZEMI go out and would have lunch or dinner with their professor and sometimes they would get a bottle of wine for their table and drink that but generally they focus on learning more about their subject of study. As for just going out drinking with your professor it does happen rarely when the students are on really good terms and the professor is really lade back but in general its a little frowned upon. I think it is a great idea to go and hang out with your professor but to me it just feels a little bit weird.

  5. I do find the fact that it is so socially accepted and usual for students to go out drinking with their professors! To me it seemed like in the U.S. not only is it weird to drink with a professor, but even just hanging out or having lunch is not very common as sometimes people might see it as the professor having biases/favorites in class. In Mongolia, we do go out to karaoke with teachers or classmates once in a while, but drinking was never part of it. I think, for company employees to go out drinking with their boss is completely normal in most cultures. For example, my father who makes several contracts a year with different companies, told me that in the business world one needs to be adaptable and humble. He often goes out for dinner or to drink with potential contractors, and although he is not a big fan of alcohol, he said that drinking is inevitable when doing business as it enhances bonding, but getting wasted is not recommended. I suppose it could work like that for students too. I personally do like the aspect of hanging out with my professors outside of school and would love to see that happen more often in the States!

  6. I think this part of Japanese culture is very different than American culture. Typically students go out drinking with friends as a way to relax from a long week at school and just have fun on the weekends. Students usually don’t want to be drinking with a professor who may be twice their age and classmates who they might not be as good friends with when they can instead be drinking with their closest friends. I think it’s the same way when you’re employed. In Japan you’re often required to go out drinking with your coworkers and your boss. In most cases in the US, your boss is the last person you would want to go drinking with. When I spoke to my employed Japanese friends, none of them enjoyed that aspect of Japanese culture, and they told me they would rather be drinking with friends rather than their boss.

    I think the drinking culture in Japan is another aspect of the more group-oriented way of thinking. It builds harmony between coworkers, their boss, students, and their professors. Although teachers in the US will certainly take an interest in how the student is doing in their class, becoming as close to them as to go out drinking with them is extremely uncommon. It’s more of a social norm here that students and teachers are close enough, but not too close, so the students learn the material and the teachers are able to help the students learn.

  7. Something that has been touched on well by the previous comments is the idea that social life and school life are often kept separate by American Students, and this is why the idea of these Zemi’s is odd to us. At the same point and time I think that just saying that Americans keep school life and social life separate isn’t a good enough analysis. I think that a major part of the difference here is the level of respect held for teachers in America. Teachers are viewed more as judges than as friends or mentors, and so they are more removed from the students as arbitrators, people to be feared or annoyed with, rather than respected. The same is true for superiors in the workforce. This sort of casual interaction is unseemly given the same perspective. The closest thing to Nommunication that exists within the U.S I would guess to be the practice of buying new or potential employees lunch, in which food is meant to be used as an icebreaker. Overall the custom seems practical and obvious.

  8. Although the style and execution of it may vary, nommunication does exist in the United States. Those who hold jobs in the corporate world are no strangers to “working off the clock”. Sometimes it seems as if the job is never finished. From business lunches, to a brief after-work cocktail, or an all expense paid trip to Vegas, there isn’t much a corporation will not do to gain your business.

    Doing business outside of work is common; having drinks between co-workers is even more so. In the United States, depending on your level of comfort with your superior, many choose not or are not able to socialize with their bosses; however, in some cases, the relationship between boss and subordinate is very casual and drinks and discussions of personal life outside of work is most welcomed and looked forward to.

    The only major difference I can see would be drinking with professors. In the United States, this is not common and based on many watched episodes of Law and Order, it is usually frowned upon and ends up with the professor getting into some sort of legal issue. This typically has to do with the differences in age. Not to say that professors and students socializing will always lead to trouble, because I’m sure good things can also come from it, in the United States, this isn’t something that is practiced on the regular.

  9. I had some reverse culture shock when I got to the states after growing up in Seoul. I think that the drinking culture in Japan is similar to Korea’s. I feel like it would be considered inappropriate in the United States if students were found to be drinking with their professors. But i know that in Korea, colleagues go out together in a business setting.

    I also think that drinking is more ingrained in Japanese and Korean culture in contrast to America’s especially for the college age group since alcohol is so stigmatized because of a higher drinking age.

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