Yesterday, we all met together and went for dinner to welcome him back. That is a very typical situation in a Japanese company. When a new member joins the work group, there is always one dinner to welcome him/her, the so called Kangeikai 歓迎会. When one member leaves the group, than there is a farewell party or Kansoukai, 歓送会.
If you have ever come to Japan, you must have noticed that Japanese people love drinking with colleagues. Actually, "going out for dinner" is normally expressed as "going drinking" and Japanese would say in English something like "Let's go drink together sometime" instead of the most common "Let's hang out/ go out/ go party sometime" for Westerners.
There are many occasions Japanese coworkers go drink together: new group members, group members leaving, end of the year dinner, new year dinner, hanami... or any time there is something to celebrate.
Restaurants also cater for these parties appropriately. It is common to be offered all you can eat and drink menus, Tabehoudai 食べ放題 and Nomihoudai 飲み放題 respectively. Normally, there is a time limit for these. Yesterday, we went for one of these all you can eat and drink menus and the time limit was 2 hours, which is about standard. The price depends on the restaurant, but prices around 3000 or 4000 yen are common.
If you are planning to visit Japan in the future, going for an all-you-can-eat menu can be a good option! What do you think about it? Would you like to try this kind of buffet style dinners including drinks or would you rather order dishes/ drinks directly?