Sunday, April 27, 2008

culture shock

This post is half rant and half culture shock. Being that Japan's workforce is mostly male, they go out for tsukiai and settai. Both include drinking and eating.

Most times tsukiai is amongst co-workers or friends, kind of like "pau hana time" (happy hour) in Hawaii.

Settai is when you take a client out for drinks. Sometimes settai includes taking client out to raunchy areas for their "pleasure".

Can you imagine that most men do not eat at home on the weekdays? For me, I'm okay if Satoshi eats out during the week, saves me time in making something for dinner, but the part that kills me is the "last minute" gathering. These usually include no phone call. Thank goodness, I'm not waiting for him to come home to eat with me...some wives actually do! Can you imagine waiting until 11 p.m. or later to eat dinner and then finding out that your husband ate out already?

The thing that I don't understand is why the men and women here drink to the point where they cannot walk. Maybe it is because we have public transportation like trains? They don't have to worry about driving a car to get home? I've seen people stagger, then throw up all around the place...not pretty. (sorry if you were eating while reading this...)

People fall asleep on the train. Miss their stops. Catching a train late at night smells like a brewery. Everyone's faces are red from the alcohol. Plus, the trains are packed, everyone trying to make it home before the trains stop. I think that this is the time when chikan (molesting/fondling) occurs. When you are packed liked sardines, have alcohol in you, it is bound to happen...sigh.

Having a hangover the next day cannot possibly be too productive for you at work.

So, the other night, Satoshi had a welcome party for some of his new staff. I went to bed before he came home, but wasn't "fully sleeping"--sub-conciously I was waiting for him to come home.

At about 1 a.m. I woke up and realized he hadn't come home yet. The trains stop at around this time, so the only way to come home would be by taxi.

Finally, at about 1:30 a.m. I hear a car pull up. Someone staggering up the stairs. It was Satoshi.

This is what he told me the next morning...He fell asleep on the train, missed his stop and had to catch a taxi home. But, he didn't have enough money to pay his fare, (the price of the taxi goes up after a certain time), so he had to come up, look for some money then go back down to pay.

(You should know that when he lived at his parent's house in Kyoto before we were married, he once overslept his stop and found himself at the end of the line in Shiga prefecture! I guess that would be like needing to get off in New Jersey from Manhattan but finding yourself in Washington D.C....or something like that.)

Anyway, he was in the midst of changing his clothes...then fell asleep on the floor. Lights on. I know this because I got up because the lights were on, turned the lights off and then shut the door.

Why did I shut the door? Satoshi's snoring, especially after drinking is so loud, you can hear it even with a walkman me, I still use my walkman to try to drain out the snoring, but can still hear it! He said I should just get used to his snoring, to think of it as BGM (background music), I call it more like BGN (background noise)...sigh.

So, the next morning, he complained of a headache, loss of appetite...he smelled like a brewery...blah!

I shook my head and let him suffer with his hangover. Even if it is for his company, even if it is for communication purposes. To drink yourself to the point where you are sick, is kind of...well, stupid!

I guess it is part of the culture I will never understand.

While I'm on the subject of culture shock...I never realized how fast pre-fab houses can go up.

At 15:45, I checked on the progress of the house building next door. They had the wall frames up and were working on the 3rd floor.

In the meantime, I made dinner (loco moco) and we ate at about 16:30 (early) because Satoshi had his German class.

At 17:30, I checked on them again because it was quiet. They already had the roof up. Scarily too fast...


OkiHwn said...

Boy, you lost whatever view you had! The new houses are just staring into you!

K & S said...

The last building was only 2 stories, so we still had some privacy. :)

Take care.

FranMag said...

I remember seeing this behavior on trips to Japan. I could never understand it either. I guess we can thank goodness there is public transportation and they don't drive when they're that drunk!

Anonymous said...

My sympathies to you, Kat. The fact that Satoshi had to come upstairs to get more money to pay the (I'm sure it was exorbitant) taxi fare would make me see red, too. Unfortunately and I'm sure you already know this, he would be penalized at work if he didn't participate in these after work drinking outings. My dad's Japanese friend was criticized after he married an American woman and didn't participate in these drinking practices as much as his co-workers. He ended up quitting before he was fired even though he knew he would have trouble getting a job at his age (early 40s). I don't get why they have to drink until they are literally falling down, either. Satoshi is lucky to have such a smart, savvy wife to put up with him! Good luck to the both of you!

bourgogne said...

fun post! maybe satoshi should use that throat spray thingy to reduce snoring...:D

Lori said...

Sorry to hear about the night you had. I'm glad he finally got home safe and sound though.

The loco moco looks good, what kind of brown gravy did you use? Looks nice and rich! :)

K & S said...

Sad part, Franmag is that some areas of Japan do not have public transportation, so there are still drunk drivers out there!

Thanks Anon! and thanks for sharing your experiences.

I better look for that spray, Bourgogne. We've tried the strips and the plastic thing for inside the nose. Thanks for the tip!

The gravy, Lori, is sadly the instant type, McCormick, I think. I usually buy some when I go home so that I can make loco moco in Japan :)

Take care everyone!

OkiHwn said...

Thank goodness for trains and taxis at least. Never did that back in Hawaii. Did go out drinking with the guys but maybe once a month on a special occasion. Without trains, etc. there's the big DUI always hanging over. But never to a blinding drunk stage. Glad there's no "settai" mentality in Hawaii.

K & S said...

I was glad there was not settai in Hawaii either, Nate :)

Take care.

jasmine said...

Oh my...this ¸reads like my area at Oktoberfest...execept most of the drunkards are tourists. I remember when I was in secondary school, some guy was far too drunk for his own good and knocked on our door at 2am looking for a place to sleep because he couldn't find his hotel.

Re: Snoring, get your sweetie checked out for sleep apnaea...seriously. If he *is* diagnose, you'll probably sleep better and he may have to cut down on his cavorting...


ilingc said...

Hi Kat,

I'm all for drinking.. in moderation. Who doesn't like a drink or two eh?

I have friends who do the same thing here in London. I can tolerate friends getting tanked on the weekends because it's the end of the week, but I don't get the week day drinking thing either.

My sympathies with the trouble you had with Satoshi. It's a wonder he was able to get into a cab and still direct the driver back to your place :)

From my experience with trains in Japan, I'd say it's not so bad getting drunk and missing your stop in Japan. It's a lot more dangerous in London, Sydney and Melbourne if you fall asleep and miss your stop. You'd be very lucky if you woke up in one piece! EEK!

K & S said...

Thank you Jasmine. I think the doctor told him that one of his nostril passages was crooked. But, I'll definitely tell him to get checked for the apnea.

Thank you Ilingc, though now in Japan, if you fall asleep on the train you risk getting pickpocketed. :( Not as safe as times before.

Take care you two.

beadexplorer said...

Hi, hi! That's funny. Not for your husband, of course. I did not know that the Japanese drink so heavily! I thought they were more careful since they don't tolerate so much alcohol, do they?
Annoying that the husbands don't inform their wives that they ate out!!!

K & S said...

It is very annoying and rude for husbands not to inform their wives that they will be eating out, Beadexplorer!

Take care.

Michelle Toratani said...

Hi Kat, I felt for you reading this post. I vividly remember catching the trains around 9 or 10 pm in Japan and seeing lots of "salary men" totally red and wreaking of booze and passed out. I really wondered how they even knew when their stop was and you've just answered my questions. The Japanese are so lucky that it's a relatively safe and honest country - if they passed out drunk like that in NYC, they'd be robbed! I truly don't understand the binge drinking either. Why, oh why do they have to drink until they can't function? That is my biggest problem with Japan - conformity.

K & S said...

some people have been robbed after passing out on the trains, Michelle. Sad, but Japan isn't as safe as it used to be.

Take care.