Feb 9, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Shots of catchup


Kaketsuke sanbai

Meaning of Japanese:
Three quick glasses (of wine, etc., as "punishment") for a latecomer to a banquet or drinking party

English equivalents:
Punctuality is the politeness of kings


At 2/10/2005 10:00 PM, Blogger Safety Neal said...

That's an interesting kotowaza. I cannot think of any English equivalents, but I've experienced this many times when I arrive at a social scene and everyone there is several beers ahead of me and they offer you shots to help you "catch up". It's no secret that America is full of lushes. I was wondering about your experience with alcoholism in Japan and how it compares to your impression of US rates of alcoholism and the socialization surrounding alcohol in both cultures.

At 2/13/2005 9:40 AM, Blogger eBohn said...

Hmmm... good question. I haven't seen any comparison of alcoholism rates in the two countries, and I don't know where one would find accurate figures of such. But my guess would be that it's less common here if for no other reason than the lack of puritanical taboos. There was never a prohibition of alcohol in Japan (to my knowledge) and today one can purchase booze of all stripes and colors - canned beer to plastic jug of whiskey - from vending machines, without supervision. One may then consume said purchase anywhere one likes, in public or private.
It's everywhere, and the thrill factor is low.

Drinking is definitely encouraged here as a lubricant in social situations, and if you're not firm in refusing they'll make sure your glass is always full. But Japanese usually get tipsy pretty quickly, and in my estimation they overdrink less often than Americans. (at least I've never heard anyone here bragging about how close they came to alchol poisoning last weekend...) And I have known more young adults here (usually women) to refuse alcohol at a party, or to nurse one drink and then switch to tea.

I don't have any personal experience with alcoholism in Japan, but if our idiot box is to be believed, there are more than a few unimaginative corporate widows who while away their time with low-proof shochu.

Sorry, I lost track of what I was saying. In the process of writing this, I got into a little side discussion with Rie about freedom and responsibility, and she related something she'd been told in high school like "true freedom is having the intelligence to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong."


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