Last weekend, I joined the other teachers on an overnight enkai at a hotel in Yugawara, Shizuoka. It was my first time being invited on an overnight enaki event in Japan. It was really fun, and was such a great opportunity to get to know and spend time with the teachers outside of school, in a social setting. It was at a really nice hotel with onsen. The hotel provided yukatas to wear, so I decided to try one. It was my first time wearing a yukata, and I really liked it! It was very comfortable and I felt very elegant.
Dinner was excellent. It was traditional Japanese food. There were so many different kinds of food, all served on different dishes. Usually American food is just one main dish served on one plate. During dinner, we played bingo, a quiz game, and a charades game. It was so much fun, and I was the first winner at bingo! After dinner, I enjoyed the onsen with some of the female teachers, and then headed to bed. In the morning, there was a big breakfast buffet with many different western and Japanese options. I mainly stuck to the foods I knew. For me, it is a strange idea to have fish for breakfast, but this is very normal in Japan.
Overall, the enkai was a really great event, and I’m so glad that I was invited to attend. In the United States, it is very common to spend time with your coworkers outside of work. But it is usually much more casual – just people meeting up unplanned after work, not going to a pre-planned event like an enaki. Also, it’s not very common to go to an overnight social event at a hotel. I think that maybe enkais are popular in Japan because most people are very busy and work a lot, so it is more difficult for them to casually hang out with coworkers. Either way – casually like in the United States, or at an organized enkai like in Japan, spending time with your colleagues is great!
- Emma Sletteland