Joining a Japanese company is something of an emotional commitment. Usually, you join immediately after graduation with a group of fellow recent graduates who have all been looking forward to joining the company for some time. There would be something of a formal ceremony in the company's lecture hall, highlighted by a few words from a top company official, after which you would be issued company uniforms and identification cards with your photo.
We hear that Nippon Steel Corporation, after holding their formal welcoming ceremony, used to hold a considerably less formal ceremony on the foundry floor in which new recruits, having been issued helmets emblazoned with the company insignia, had their new helmets filled to the brim with the local sake, which they were then invited to down on the spot while standing, with the time allowed for them to complete this task being counted down.
When an old Nippon Steel hand was recently asked if this charming tradition endures today, he said: "Oh no. Oh no. Ohhh nooo," in a tone which suggested that there was some room for interpretation. "Anyway," he added, "the helmets these days are smaller."
- Myles NaGopaleen