I was reading the page of a JET participant (whom I believe is a she) where she wrote about her enkai experience with the school she teaches at. She brought up the point on teachers going around the tables with beer bottles in their hands and pouring the beer for other teachers and then chat with them.
This brought to mind my first hanseikai （反省会） experience. Same difference, I know. The exact same thing that the JET participant mentioned happened at the party I was at as well. It was also then, that I got to learn more about the practice. Sure, for one thing, the going around and pouring of beer is really secondary as opposed to the primary purpose of having a good conversation. But, I’ve learnt that even at the same table, you’ll notice teachers pouring beer for one another and never for themselves. I repeat. Never.
A talk with the teachers revealed that the Japanese believe that if you pour beer for yourself, it is inauspicious career-wise and you may never be promoted. So, if you see a teacher’s glass empty, especially if they are seated next to you, do offer your service to fill the glass. It’ll be greatly appreciated.