Konpa (コンパ) are a type of Japanese drinking gathering held by university students in a casual drinking establishment called an izakaya, and are more relaxed than the traditional nomikai. It is often suggested that this word originally came from German:Kompanie, English: company, or French: compagnie, although the exact root is unknown. These gatherings are intended for developing friendships or deepening relationships with members of the same affiliated group or with the opposite sex that benefit Japanese socially in their careers and in their lives.
When Japanese university culture was first established during the Meiji period (1868-1912)., the custom of members of the same class or dormitory drinking together to deepen their bond of friendship began. These gatherings were largely restricted to members of the same sex until after World War II when mixing between the sexes became increasingly more common. The modern manifestation of this drinking custom is the konpa of today. In recent years, young professionals continue to hold konpa even after graduation from a university, often to find a potential spouse, but the definition of konpa (as opposed to the all encompassing nomikai) restricts it to young people and is very rarely participated in after marriage.
Konpa are heavily planned, and an appointed organizer (termed kanji in Japanese) often seeks out the location, determines a time, and sets the price for each attendee. The participants in the parties are pre-determined, and it is not typically accepted to attend or join in a konpa if one is not invited by the kanji. Attendees typically sit on the floor on a sitting cushion (see: zabuton) around a long table in a secluded area of the predetermined venue. In some cases attendees will be seated at one or several Western-style tables. As typical of Japanese drinking gatherings (see: nomikai), konpa often begin with an opening speech from a senior member or organizer and a toast. Drinks are brought in by a wait staff along with various types of snacks thought to go along with alcohol (termedtsumami in Japanese). It is typical to have a time-restricted "all you can drink" period termed nomihōdai (or nomihō for short) that is paid for by a set fee. This often comes along with a certain number of snacks, and extra items can generally be ordered for an additional price. A beer-only "all you can drink" period is usually cheaper than an all-inclusive period including heavier liquors. This system is conducive to the heavy drinking prevalent among Japanese university students, which is viewed as a way of relaxing to permit more uninhibited conversation between attendees. It is common for attendees to drink to the point of vomiting or losing consciousness. It is usually the duty of the organizer to ensure that everyone has all of his or her own belongings and that they return home safely.
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