Take our user survey here!

Tweet of the Week #78: Japanese Turn to Zoom for Nomikais While Social Distancing

Not even the coronavirus can stop drinking parties.

By 3 min read

One cannot simply escape Japan’s かい (drinking party) culture. Whether it’s with your colleagues, clients, or casual acquaintances, drinking parties feel essential to get everything done in Japan, from making friends to business deals.

We shouldn’t really be relying on alcohol to talk to other people. Regardless, many cultures hold on to the idea that a quick glass of liquor helps muster our courage or eases a particularly hard day, and Japan’s drinking culture is no exception. They even came up with a clever word for it in the 80s: みニケーション or nominication (drinking communication). It’s a clever combo of the verb  (to drink) and the English word “communication.”

The COVID-19 pandemic basically forced all of us to turn into social recluses for the unforeseeable future… if you think that will stop Japanese people from nomikai-ing, think again.

Happy hours allow us to ease tensions, reveal our true selves (not necessarily our best selves) and ultimately, develop rich bonds with others. In other words, alcohol is the perfect truth-teller to lubricate social relationships.

Whether we like it or not, Japanese nomikai culture will probably go on for as long as Japanese people believe grabbing a beer (or four) is essential for employee morale. That “after-work” drink with your coworkers might even be an unspoken requirement for some traditional Japanese companies.

If you’ve got to show your face to climb the corporate ladder, do remember that no one can force you to drink that cup of sake if you don’t want to.

Virtual kanpai!

The COVID-19 pandemic basically forced all of us to turn into hikikomori (social recluses) for the unforeseeable future. Japanese authorities are calling for pubs and izakayas to close and for people to stay home. It has more or less killed every chance to socialize. But if you think that will stop Japanese people from nomikai-ing, think again.

Since mid-March, Japanese news outlets noticed a new word popping up on social media: オン飲み. It’s short for オンライン飲み会, or “online drinking party.” Thanks to the booming popularity of Zoom, a trendy teleconferencing tool, this new word was quickly outshined by the expression Zoom飲み, literally “drink on Zoom.”



“My glasses were like this when I woke up after falling asleep doing a ZoomNomi.”

A good reminder protect your glasses before getting drunk.


#Zoom #Zoom飲み


“I had a Zoom drinking party and convinced my friends to wear character faces. It was so fun. Highly recommended.”

Can someone tell me how they managed to drink their beers with those masks on?!

Virtual nomikai are “called” ZoomNomi

The Japanese expression という is convenient for defining or describing what something is known or referred to as. It’s built with the particle  and the verb (to tell or say), but you can go further and even replace with other particles such as こう (this way), そう (that way) or どう (what way).

Here are three ways you can use this grammar point.

  • To name something

Zoom飲みというのをやった = I did what is called Zoom-nomi.

  • To define something

Zoom飲みというのあたらしい言葉ことば = That is a new word called Zoom-nomi.

  • To emphasize something

Zoom飲みというオンライン飲み会は人気にんきがあるらしいです = Zoom-nomi, (that is) a type of online drinking, seems to be popular.


かい nomikai drinking party
みニケーション nomi nikeeshyon nominication (drinking helps communication)
  nomu drink
オンライン飲み会 onrain nomikai online drinking party
オン飲み on nomi online drinking party
Zoom飲み zoom nomi drinking party on zoom
友達ともだち tomodachi friend(s)
oshi pushing for
キャラ kyara character
ながら nagara while (doing something)
めちゃくちゃ mechyakuchya really, excessively
たのしい tanoshii fun
オススメ osusume recommendation
iu  tell/say
という to iu named/that is/that way…
あたらしい atarashii new
人気にんきがある ninki ga aru be popular, have popularity


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA - Privacy Policy - Terms of Service



Making Reservations in Japanese

Failsafe ways to book accommodations, tickets and dinners out in Japan.

By 5 min read


Everyday Japanese: How to Address Someone

When meeting people in Japan, be sure to use the appropriate title.

By 4 min read 17


What Does Yabai Mean in Japanese Slang?

Yabai can mean anything from very bad to very good.

By 4 min read