International Conference in Berlin        July15and16 2002
Emergence of a Global Culture? Affinity&Diversity in Lifestyles

      The Kanpai-Culture in Japan

           Free University of Berlin,Kawanishi-Shigetada

1. Introduction

My name is Kawanishi.I'm very glad to have opportunity to speak about Japanese culture here today.
First of all I would like to thank professor Park Who gave me today's theme "Kanpai culture in Japan".I suppose that nobody has ever studied KANPAI as a culture before.I am even not sure,whether the word "Kanpai-Culture" already existed.Maybe it is a word invented by professor Park,I guess.
Today I would like to speak about this theme not in the style of a scientific report but in the style of an essay,in terms of the meaning "Kanpai" as a communication method.

2.Conceptions of eating and drinking in Japan

As a beginning,I would like to give a glance at the general Japanese idea of drinking and eating.
Since old times,Japanese culture has been strongly influenced by China.
Not only by its culture but also by its national structure,economic system, academic system, religion,e.t.c.
Almost in every area, Japanese culture has got Chinese influence.
For Japan,China of those days used to mean "the whole world".
For example,"Zen" or "Tea ceremony" which became popular in Europe these days also came from China.They were brought to Japan a long time ago.The Japanese adopted features of Chinese culture and developed them in their own way as a Japanese culture.

Eighty years ago,a famous historian "Konan Naitoh" of Kyoto university mentioned in his lecture "What actually is Japanese culture" that the origin of Japanese culture is China,and also,that the Japanese culture is an creation made out of the materials of Chinese culture,but processed by the characteristic Japanese spirit.
As an example, he took the Tofu making process.To make Tofu soybeans are used.We can make Tofu only by adding an amount of bittern called"Nigari". He said Japanese spirit are like "Nigari" in Tofu making process,which needs to be added solidify soya milk.
This is a famous hypothesis called "Tofu nigari Theory",as some of you might already know.

In terms of eating and drinking culture as well,China had a big influence on Japan.I would like to reflect on it in the Analects of Confucius.
Confucius,the founder of Confucianism,was the man who united China by science.The first Emperor of the Qin-Dynasty united it with military power and Mao Zedong by ideology.Without exaggeration it can be said that these three men were the greatest in Chinese history.

By the way,In the long past time,Confucius ideas concerning eating and drinking became the base of the lifestyle both in Japan and China.
In his analects he says:"you should eat fresh food"."Don't eat if its color has changed,if it smells bad or if it is out of season"."Don't speak during a meal"."Don't sit down  if the seats are not in order."
In feudal times,Japanese Samurai-class adopted Chinese Confucianism faithfully.Among them,to keep silent during a meal considered as the best manner.
This idea remained after Samurai-time through Meiji、Taisho,and until Showa period.After 2 world war,more liberal habits of eating and drinking spread out gradually,therefore life styles changed and consequently,their eating and drinking manner varied.

Also in China,since the adaptation of social reform and economic opening policy,the opportunities for party increased.At these parties they had to sit down on their reserved seat.It was the heritage of Confucious teaching.
However Confucius was tolerant with alcohol.In his Analects he says "there is no exact limit of my alcohol consumption,but not so much" He also accepts a little bit of eating and drinking.

3.The way of Hanami(cherry-blossom viewing)in Japan and German
You can find many examples about alcohol both in China and Japan.
  Now I would like to study "Kanpai" by thinking about the Hanami in Japan.Hanami means flower viewing in a literal sense of the word.
  Japanese like cherry-blossoms very much.Every year when spring comes,they start to think about going to "Hanami".Since old times "Hanami" has been a great pleasure for the Japanese.At "Hanami",they drink and sing under the cherry-blossoms.
  About 800 years ago,a famous poet(his name is Saigyo)wrote;
  "If it is possible,I would like to die under the cherry-blossoms in a full moon"
  In Japan,cherry-blossoms symbolize flowers in general,as Samurai symbolize men in general.

  Drinking and talking with close friends while viewing the cherry-blossoms is for us a tasteful habits. We Japanese have treasured it as an elegant habit.It used to be a luxury for upper class people.But now it became a everybody's joyful spring event.
  Different from european parties,at Hanami you make your own territory called "Nawabari".You can do your party only in your own Nawabari.
  You nearly never change the seat you sit down in the begining.
  At Hanami place,each group makes their own Nawabari,and then within all these territories singing and dancing begin,but they never disturb the others. 
Hanami normally begins with a toast,as you know "Kanpai".
"Kanpai" is a very important opening ceremony.After a "Kanpai" Hanami formally starts for the first time. If other people are late,"Kanpai" is repeated for every latecomer.It shows familiarity to these latecomers.
Of course every language has a word for "Kanpai".Like in English,you say "toast! or cheers",also in German "Zum Wohl! Or Prosit",and Chinese "Kanbei".But Japanese "Kanpai" seems to be more formal than the others.

At the end of this April,I participated in a Hanami in Werder organized by German-Japanese society.To go to Werder you need to take a two hours boat trip from Berlin Bansee.Every spring a flower festival takes place in Werder.Every year during the festival they receive almost 200,000 visitors.This year at our Hanami,30 German and Japanese participants gathered.

We could see beautiful cherry-blossoms in bloom on a hill.Under cherry trees small stands were set.They were offering wine,sausages,sandwiches,etc.、It was a suitable atmosphere for Hanami.Instead of a Japanese straw mat,we set up a table and chairs.We didn't have any sake nor beer but only wine.Without a Kanpai it began slowly.
Everybody spoke with everybody.Without hesitating,we enjoyed our conversations.Unlike Japan there was no barrier between the inside and the outside(called uchi to soto)at all.You can say that Japanese Hanami is a ceremony to reconfirm your close friendship,on the other hand that of the German is a party to enjoy eating,drinking,and talking freely in nature.

Nowadays you can find cherry trees all over the world.Japanese planted them in the USA,Germany,China and elsewhere from Japan. However in overseas these cherry trees look different from that of Japan.They are not as big as Japanese ones but their flowers give out strong colour.Overseas even cherry trees seem to be individualistic.

4.Comunications in Japanese companies

Like Japanese way of Hanami,you can see their Nawabari habits in various sceanes.As you know Japanese companies are famous for their homogenous character.The biggest Japanese enterprises Matsusita and Toyota,are typical examples of it. Towards the inside they are strongly tied up internally,but towards the outside when their enemies appear,they resist them in a group.

Generally Japanese employees make their careers in their own company through their own work.It means that they don't have any contact with people outside of their company.Even after work,they go out together with their colleagues.In a bar they talk about their work and their company.Employees are dependent on their company in their whole life and and the company always controls their life.Society judges people by the scale of their company and by their position in their company.
The idea "A company before an employee" instead of "An employee before a company" is primary.

Still now almost every Japanese company holds a morning meeting called "Chorei".It is a opening ceremony which indicate the beginning of a day like "Kanpai" at parties.
Nowadays you can find this "Chorei" not only in Japan but also in other countries.Like the biggest Chinese electric enterprise"Hier",they have adopted "chourei" system at the factory in Southcalrolina USA.

After work when it gets dark,many executives in big company in Tokyo used to go to executive clubs or special Japanese restaurants called "Ryotei" in Ginza for their business reception.
From the end of 1960s until the end of 1980s,during the period of high economic growth,all the 3000 restaurants and clubs in Ginza prospered.
But after the burst of the bubble,when Japanese business started to decline,these companies started to cut down their budget,the number of those restaurants and clubs are decreasing every year.

These restaurants(Ryotei) and clubs are not open for individual use.
Normally it costs about 300euro just to enter.They are places for some limited groups of executives who treat other executives at the firm's expense and get more familiar with each other.
Normal employees often go to the pub called "Izakaya" or to karaoke bar.
Also students often go to drinking parties called "Compa",which is a abbreviation of the English word "company" in the student slang.They go to pubs or karaoke bars.
5.The third rush hour

Usually in Japan,rush hours occur twice a day,in the morning,in the evening.But these days the last trains in Tokyo are crowded with people going back to their home at midnight or even after one o'clock.
Some people call this phenomenon,"the third rush hour"
A German writer Dr.Christoph Neuman who lives in Japan since 1995,described this situation in his just recently published book "Darum nerven Japaner"(Why Japanese get on ones nerves),with the words "Fuyajo Nippon"
(the land that never sleeps Nippon).

Now Japanese economy is in a depression.The unemployment rate is glowing.The trend to a low birth-rate and an aging society is advancing.
But in spite of this recession,the streets are still filled with people until midnight.What does this phenomenon mean? 
Is Japan really in the middle of recession? It is hard to believe it,when you see this scene at midnight.

A Chinese friend of mine says that he cannot believe that Japan is in a depression.In China a depression is a situation when people starve to death.I've never heard of any starvation news because of this depression in  


The main theme of this International Conference is "Emergence of a Global culture? - Affinity&Diversity in Lifestyles. I want to come to the conclusions of my report.
During this years the world cup in Korea and Japan,we received lots of supporters and tourists from all over the world.Their interests in both Korea and Japan have enormously grown. 
Also perception gap between this two countries and other countries has become smaller through this world cup.This is a little bit of globalization due to tourism and sport.

Well,it is said that the service of JAL(Japan Air Line)is one of the best in the world.They serve well considered meals,When you order a Japanese meal,you get Japanese noodle called "JAL soba".This service is quite popular among their customers. Besides they serve "Dry natto" packed in a small bag.This is said to be affective to control "economy class syndrome".It was also JAL which started to distribute wet towel service called "Osibori service" to the customers.
Now it has become very common all airlines.It is a good example as a small service which is adopted in the whole world.
Sashimi,sushi,wasabi,soba,udon which also served on airplanes,are now world languages.These words appear in collin's dictionary of English as well.
When you travel to Japan,the first place where you meet Japanese culture is on airplane.They play a very important role.

People say that karaoke,manga,and family computer are the three biggest Japanese inventions.On the other hand,vending machines,pachinko and 24hour stores attract travelers attention. The popularization of vending machine and 24hours stores have changed the commercial system of food and book marketing.For example the largest number of books is not sold in bookstores but in the biggest 24hour chain store "Seven eleven".
One reason for the success of ASAHI Beer which overtaken KIRIN in their sales of beer is because of the spread of vending machines and 24hour stores selling ASAHI products.

In the past the typical image of Japan used to be Fujiyama Geisha.But it is changing with globalization.Japanese society is trying to adjust itself to the era of globalization while keeping its own traditional character.
Maybe you can say that global civilizations are mixing but still coexisting together with Japanese local culture.
This last ten years because of the appearance of globalization,Japanese government and enterprises have been obliged to rationalize their economy to Increase their efficiency.

Imported products like Coke,Mc'Donald or Starbacks are changing Japanese eating and drinking habits.On the other hand the characteristic Japanese pub chain called"Izakaya" for example Murasaki,Sirokiya,are rapidly increasing their number.Most of their customers are the younger generation.
It seems that for them 24hour stores,karaoke bar,and Japanese Izakaya are something inevitable in their life.
The third rush hour seems to continue in the 21th century.
Thank you for your attention.