Enkai are semiformal events for which the organizer will make invitations, set up arrangements with the restaurant, and designate the speechmakers, taking care of all the details in general. It is customary for an enkai to have a predetermined start and finish time. You will know the party is over when everyone stands up and someone gives a short speech. What follows may catch you off guard at first, but just do what everyone else is doing and you will be fine. Three times, people will throw their hands over their heads and yell Banzai! followed by a single clap as the finale. This is the signal that the enkai has officially ended.
The enkai may then be followed by an afterparty, the nijikai (“second party”). The nijikai will be less formal, but still somewhat organized. Those who are interested will be informed of a predetermined location where there will be more drinking, and, most likely, karaoke. This is a preferred pastime of many people who are usually too shy to get up and sing in front of a group. Some karaoke bars even have special rooms where your little gang can serenade each other privately. Books with song selections are usually written in both Japanese and English (many of the songs happen to be by Madonna or Elvis), so you will have no trouble finding your favorite tune.
Can you guess the original verb in the word ikoo?
It is iku, or ikimasu. This conjugation is the equivalent of saying “let's.” It is used when recommending that an action or activity be done together.
The polite version is ikimashoo (“let's go”).
By this time, yopparai (“drunken persons”) will have dissolved the filter between their brains and mouths with beer and may be using very informal terms to urge you to join the next party.
Ne, Pottaa-san, nijikai ni ikoo yo.
Hey, let's go to the next party!
Pottaa-san wa bijin desu ne.
You are beautiful.
Potta-san wa kakkoii ne.
You are cool.
Karaoke wa doo.
How 'bout some karaoke?
Most verbs can be easily conjugated into volitional (“let's”) phrases by changing the last syllable to an elongated -oo form: iku becomes ikoo, nomu becomes nomoo. (The same policy goes for verbs that end in just plain “u,” too.) For verbs that end in -eru and -iru, drop the -ru and add a -yoo. If you master the ability to perform this linguistic surgery, you can be as friendly as your vocabulary will allow.
Potta-san, biiru o nomimashoo.
Let's drink beer.
Potta-san, karaoke o utaoo.
Let's sing karaoke.
Potta-san, raamen wo tabeyoo.
Let's eat ramen.
Sunakku bars are places where you pay a set amount of money for a certain amount of time; 5,000 yen for two hours, for example. In the company of beautiful women who are party professionals, conversation is lighthearted and drinks are included (up to a certain point).
Often moonlighting as coffee shops during the day, you can easily identify a sunakku by its plush velvet booths or fancy chairs, as well as the neon koohii signs in the windows. It is possible for the third (or fourth) party to end up in a sunakku so you might want to ask your group where they are headed (and perhaps get a price estimate) before you tag along. Both formal and informal examples of how to phrase these questions follow.
Sumimasen, kondo wa doko ni ikimasu ka.
Excuse me, where are we going next?
Ne, kondo wa doko iku no.
Hey, where to next?
Koko wa o-ikura gurai ni narimasu ka.
How much does this place cost?
Watashi no o-kane wa moo nakunarimashita.
I'm out of money.