And for the record - as I may have mentioned before - I really think the secret to such harmonious work relations may well have to do with enkai...We have several parties (at about $50 a pop) - several times a year. We have them for the opening and closing of school years, the end and then again in the beginning of the calendar year, before the seniors take their entrance exams, after/before major school-wide and prefecture-wide sports events. Many of these are basically in triplicate, since there are different parties for the whole staff, the grade level teachers (I'm with the teachers who teach first years), and then each of the subject areas, too. Oh, wait - we had one at a fantastic tofu restaurant for all the women on staff, too (I can only imagine where the men's party was!). Whew. It's expensive, and kind of annoying because it's 'all you can drink' - but that only means beer and sake (neither of which appeal to me). It's also difficult because - well, it's a party, and who wants to try to speak English? Well, the beer DOES make some folks much more apt to have a go at English, and I know I need to practice my Japanese, but it's sometimes a little exhausting.
BUT, at the end of the day, I'm usually happy to attend. What other school events provide fish so fresh it's still twitching?