Musings of a Gaijin MD

Life in Japan as a Foreign Doctor

Bounenkai December 27, 2011

Filed under: Hospital — GaijinMD @ 3:40 PM

With the end of the year approaching, the hospital held its annual bounenkai, or “forget-the-year gathering,” this month in the city’s hotel with the largest conference room.  The entire ~11,000 hospital employees and their families were invited with an actual attendance of about 700 people.

The attire for this event was a mixture of business and cocktail-wear.  Men usually wore their business suits while the women wore dresses.  In comparison to the States’ Christmas parties, the ladies’ apparel seemed to be more conservative and less “festive” although still elegant.

Instead of just having a group of people mingling at a typical holiday office party, this affair was more akin to a dinner show.  Attendees were seated in tables of 10 in the hotel ballroom while being served a 10-course Japanese meal with plenty of alcohol to go around.

During this time, the different hospital departments, i.e. residency program (usually interns), nursing department, surgeons, physical therapy, etc, performed on stage.  These performances ranged anywhere from the physical therapists’ rock band to lip-synching/dancing Japanese pop songs to traditional Japanese dances to the surgeons’ wearing only a loin cloth while performing a drum routine to pre-filmed videos of unusual antics (i.e. residents rolling around in the snow wearing only their boxers).  A common theme throughout these performances is having the male contingency cross-dressing and pushing the limits on vulgarity.

All in all, it was a very good time to be had by all.  Everyone got dressed up and “let their hair down” to celebrate the ending of the year.  It was definitely a unique experience as far as what a Japanese holiday “office party” consists of as I am pretty sure that this type of event could not be replicated in the States.  Indeed, how does one attempt to try to interpret the oxymoron of a “classy,” but “dirty,” party?

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