Can’t you work unless you can drink in Japan?/謎の慣習「飲みニケーション」って?

emimaru English

Can’t you work unless you can drink in Japan?(English script)

Can't you work unless you can drink in Japan?/謎の慣習「飲みニケーション」って?

There is a strange but widely popular practice in Japanese workplaces, the so-called “Nomi-nication”.

Though “Nomi-nication” sounds very close to an English word, half of the word does have a Japanese origin.

That’s because  “Nomi-nication” is a newly coined term which brings together 飲み ‘nomi’, which is a Japanese word for ‘drinking’ and -ニケーション from the word ‘communication’. 

It refers to the common practice of going out for drinks after work with your boss and co-workers to ‘communicate’ more and foster a good relationship.

In fact, it’s not really considered an option but more of an unvoiced obligation.

It carries with it a significant kind of pressure that may have a  big effect on one’s job.

Needless to say, it’s not like there are penalties for not attending.

But what if you can’t drink much?

What if you want to spend time with your family at home or have a private appointment?

What if  you don’t want to be social with your workplace staff?

Years ago, those types of excuses wouldn’t cut it.

It would’ve been seen in a very negative light and be frowned upon. 

But certainly, in recent times, the obligatory nature of these gatherings has more or less toned down, as it’s increasingly being considered as power harassment, especially when superiors insist you attend.

It’s also being considered as alcohol harassment in regards to the act of forcing people who cannot drink alcohol.

At a drinking party, if you can’t drink, you don’t have to.

When you turn down a gesture offering you a drink, instead of bluntly saying that you can’t drink, you may rather say, “I get intoxicated easily”, in Japanese“私お酒に弱いんです”or“お酒が弱いので…” or speak in a more polite way.

By the way, you may wonder how it came to be such a big part of Japanese workplace culture.

I think that it’s because the Japanese people have always valued harmony, and so workplaces have always strived to get along with their employees and to try to develop a good relationship with everyone.

In addition to that, Japanese people are very careful when it comes to handling relationships.

Thus, they are usually passive and don’t talk about their thoughts and feelings about certain things at work in fear of ruining a camaraderie.

In a drinking event, they are able to gather the courage to speak up in a non-serious way but are still able to convey themselves to their colleagues.

At my work, I meet a lot of new employees. About half of them take  nomi-nication positively.

It appears to be a beneficial means of being able to consult with their boss and colleagues about their work or private matters.

Also, keeping good relationships with people at work makes it easier for them to do their job.

The other half of them take  “Nomi-nication” negatively.

They say that they want to cherish their private time.

They also seem to see the relationship with the company’s people troublesome.

In line with this, the pressure that nominication gives them causes a burden that is not quite easy to get rid of, especially if you want to maintain a good fellowship in the office.




飲みニケーションが飲み( ‘nomi’ –飲酒)とコミュニケーション(コミュニケーション)を組み合わせた新しい造語だからです。