Bonenkai is the year-end party. Shinnenkai is the first party of the year. Today was the Dotonbori Pro Wrestling Shinnenkai.
It was in what I like to refer to only half-jokingly as "Deep Osaka." One of those clubs where there is no sign on the street and it's very difficult to find if you haven't been there before. My old wrestling/drinking buddies Kai and Kenji took me to a couple of "Deep Osaka" places a few years ago and I got a huge kick out of it. Generally those places have a small but loyal regular clientele and one of them has to take you to the club the first time you go. In this case, Cooger sent me the address, but he had also never been there before so he wasn't able to give me any more information other than that it was close to a particular shop in Namba.
On Tuesdays I teach a group of mechanical engineers, and I told them of my dilemma (Japanese addresses can be hilariously difficult to figure out). We spent the first 15 minutes of our class working out the most likely location of the party, and the best route for me to take from the train station so I wouldn't get lost.
My private students are awesome, basically always ready to help me out with stuff like this even though they are paying for our time together.
I went to Osaka an hour early in case I couldn't find the place. I found it immediately. My students' directions were perfect.
It's in a part of the Shinsaibashi neighbourhood, close to the famous Glico sign, that is nothing but little restaurants, clubs, burlesque houses, and so on, all piled one atop the other.
Once I found the place, I wandered around for a bit, then waited outside the party location to help my various friends find it as they arrived.
The building itself is floor after floor of little private clubs and karaoke rooms and such.
Our shinnenkai space was, TARDIS-like, much bigger inside than seemed possible from the outside. Comfortable, but intimate. I could see why they picked this space. We got one free drink, and there was a pretty basic but slightly eclectic selection of free snacks (French fries, edamame, gyoza, whiskey chocolates, brandied cherries...) and other food and more drinks were in the extremely reasonable 200-300 yen range.
There was a kind of talk show, and a question-and-answer period, and individual wrestler interviews...