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Casual dinner with friends at home 2008/7/23 13:56
Is it unusual in Japan to have friends over to eat and then just hang out? I can't find any reference to that kind of casual social interaction on the internet. Not as a Westerner in Japan--I've seen those apartment-dinner pictures on plenty of ESL teacher's blogs;)

I've heard plenty of party stories, but they always seem to be at a bar or another location than the house or apartment.
But do just regular people break out the barbecue (or analog)and invite the buddies over for food and beer, and just shoot the bull?
Do teenagers hang out at a friend's house after school and play computer games--Like that?
I'd think so, but there's such an emphasis on public versus private, and the home being a sanctuary in the modern cultural information that's readily available, that it seems like a big hole in understanding Japanese socially.
Thank you, sorry if it seems a strange or outright ignorant question.
by Curious  

yes 2008/7/23 21:50
Starting from your first question mark, yes, yes and yes.

Keywords are "home party" "potluck" and "nabe (traditional pot meal)". And where else would they do games.

But it is true that generally the Japanese are hesitant to invite people they barely know, while in some other cultures it may be common. A lot of the locals would even stop you from doing this, since they consider it risky. So just because you are invited by your business partner to a nice dinner for men only and not to his house where his wife and kids are, that doesn't mean there is any lack of hospitality.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Thanks 2008/7/23 22:50
I appreciate your answer, Uco;) I never intended to imply a lack of hospitality--it's my understanding that Japanese are wonderful hosts. My first instinct to the questions was "Of course they do!" but, that's one of the slice-of-life things I never see mentioned on personal blogs and such.

I wouldn't invite people I hardly know, either--that would make it very uncomfortable for me as a host. I just put it badly when I specified "not as a Westerner." I actually meant, "I'm not asking as a Westerner looking to go to one, just do they do it?"

I had looked up "home party", "house Party," and such, but only got pages and pages of Political party information, and I didn't think about "potluck." Thank you for the word "nabe."

Thanks again!
by Curious rate this post as useful

casual 2008/7/24 01:50
I grew up in France and I find that there are similarities between Japanese and French households. In France we would routinely invite friends to a neighbourhood bar or restaurant because their food was good and cheap, we didn't have to clean the house afterwards etc. In my younger days--I am over 40-- and in the region of France I was born, inviting ANYONE at home for a casual meal meant a white table cloth, nice plates and crystal glasses, a meal with at least 3 courses etc. lots of work. A formal meal meant hiring a couple of local women to come to our home to cook and serve a very elaborate meal that lasted 3 hours or more. I don't remember my parents, their friends etc. going to one another home just for a beer and a chat..totally unthinkable! men would always go to a bar to watch a soccer match with buddies, women friends would meet in a tea room while shopping, NEVER at someone home. As a matter of fact my parents and their respective parents would always phone each other several days in advance to set up the date and time just for a quick visit, and at least a week ahead if a meal was involved. I now live in North America and my Euro friends and I do meet by appointments, NEVER drop by one another home.
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

To Red Frog 2008/7/24 10:01
Thanks, that's very interesting. Older people from my section of the country are very similar--always the table cloth, and the nice plates--and my grandmother would plan for a week for her Bridge parties with people she'd known fifty years. In other parts of the country, I think it's very similar to what you describe (my in-laws, for example.)

I think that's what I was wondering about Japan, at least in the cities; Everyone is tired from work, maybe the apartment is too small, no one wants to clean--it may be an eating-out culture already. Of course, different regions and families will have different lifestyles.

When I was in college, I had a few close friends, and we'd have dinner together sometimes--either outside for more room, or in someone's tiny, tiny apartment--and just hang out and eat and talk, maybe watch a movie. We planned for it, though, however loosely, just the affair itself was very easy.

When we moved here, our neighbors (so much fun) would open their garage door after they'd had their supper together, for cocktails or beer, darts, and just casual conversation. They moved, and we don't have the same level of ease with the other neighbors.

Backyard barbecues and dinner are more common here, I think (when you have a back yard)--and a lot of apartment complexes will have a community grill you can use--so the house stays clean, and your personal space isn't imposed upon to the same degree as a party.

Thanks for the insight.
by Curious rate this post as useful

France and Japan 2008/7/24 21:45
Red Frog, that's interesting. I never thought about France that way.

And it's interesting, because when I used to visit France in my 20s, I used to have or be invited to meals at friends homes all the time. They would make really quick meals but in the great French style of sauces and salads and (20 Francs) wine and we would all go in jeans.

In the same sense, when I was younger I used to go to do that in Japan to (often with Suntory Red). A lot in fact. We wouldn't even clean the house, friends' sinks would be filled with unwashed plates you wouldn't want to imagine when it was last used, and we would eat at the sofa or floor or bed or wherever we want to.

But as I grew older, I started to feel the need to have the house cleaned and meals served properly, just as my mother always did when she had the occasional guests, and since we know it's the same for everybody in Japan, we tend to meet at cafes and restaurants instead, unless you have a baby with you.
by Uco rate this post as useful

in Japan 2008/7/25 00:03
Thanks for the feedback Uco and Curious. Japan and France are obviously different in many ways but I felt more at home in Japan, right from the very first day I visited it, than in North America where I live.
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

Thanks very much, both 2008/7/25 05:17
Thanks again, Uco.
It was that exact type of casualness I was curious about. Yes, I think it is something of the culture of early adulthood, too.

I recently had my roommate of three years in college come through my town on the way to a new state. I went out of my way to find a nice, child-friendly restaurant at which to meet them, rather than go to the hassle (and a little embarrassment)of having them in my home. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we're not doing as well financially as we thought we would be by now--very evident in our house--but when we were kids, I wouldn't have cared one bit about that. Weird.

By the way, nabe sounds soooo good!
by Curious rate this post as useful

. 2008/7/26 20:42
Another item addressed is practicality.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but I live in a tiny apartment, most of my friends also live in tiny apartments as well, sometimes with roommates. Just the practicality of having friends over for dinner is a nightmare, no where to sit, not enough space.

Usually I see those foreign parts are held in the lobby or open area of guesthouses, but if you're in a small tiny tokyo apartment, that's a non possibility.

I couldn't hold a party at my place if I wanted to, just not practical.
by i rate this post as useful

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