Let’s take a look back at 2016 and what’s in store for 2017! Continue reading The Year in Review – 2016
Happy Holidays! Here is a table of contents to every article I wrote 2014, plus a questionnaire for feedback. Please read and share. Continue reading The Year in Review
Sorry for the delay, y’all. I got locked out of my Wordpress account temporarily and I wasn’t able to update quickly so this post is back-dated. Anyways, it’s good to be back in the game. So let’s get down to business, shall we? Continue reading Fukagawa Shichi Fukujin
Summer in Japan means matsuri (festivals), hanabi (fireworks), and fuzoku (prostitution). Today we’ll look at the first two! Continue reading Edo River Fireworks
Going to Japan for the first time? There are a lot of manners and commonsensical behaviors that people do here and just take for granted that everyone knows. But the fact is that if you’re visiting Japan for the first time, you probably don’t know most (or maybe any) of the local customs. If I had a 1 yen coin for every time I saw a foreigner doing something “wrong,” I’d have a fuckload of 1 yen coins. They get in the way, mess up everyone’s routine, or just do things that will annoy everyone around them. None of these things is the end of the … Continue reading Japanese Manners (part 1)
Coming of Age Day was a few weeks ago and I really didn’t have anything to write about. I mean, I’ve never been to a coming of age ceremony. I’ve heard about what goes on there, but I’m not really an authority on the subject, nor did I have any insightful commentary on the phenomenon. But I do love when this holiday comes around for one reason. All the girls who turn 20 that year get all decked out in really [expensive] beautiful kimonos and get their hair and make up done especially for the day. It’s a great day … Continue reading Coming of Age Day
The holidays are over. My Christmas and O-shōgatsu breaks are finished. Even though I went back to work, the last 2 weeks have been 3 day weekends this year which really helped me ease into the new year. However, with funds low I just spent my days off loafing around the house with the girlfriend watching DVD’s and sleeping late. In other words, too busy to write anything in the blog. Yeah, I know it’s bad. I just started this blog and already I’m slacking off… Well, for better or for worse, slacking off is one of my talents. I … Continue reading 李苑 – Korean Barbecue in Nakano!
OK. This is gonna be loooooooooooooooooooooong. I promise to try my best to be concise, but I’m also trying to include as much as possible for people interested in life in Japan. Japanese New Year is the most important holiday of the year. It’s a big family holiday, much like Christmas, but a bit more solemn. All the companies and schools shut down and people return to their hometowns for a week and kick it old school with the fam. (I included a list New Year’s related vocab at the bottom if you want to see the kanji for any … Continue reading Japanese New Year
Christmas is no exception.
How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Japanese?
Young people shorten it to メリクリ (meri kuri).
クリスマスイブ kurisumasu ibu
The Religious Stuff
Santa-san is Coming to Town
Of course, Santa is big here. While everybody knows his name is Santa Claus, he is affectionately referred to with the honorific suffix “-san” (this suffix is fairly well known outside of Japan and somewhat similar to “Mr./Mrs” in English). So Santa Claus becomes Santa-san.
Japanese houses don’t have chimneys, so I’ve always wondered how he delivers toys to the little boys and girls here. I don’t know if this is a widespread story or not, but my girlfriend’s father told her that Santa-san is like a ghost and can walk through walls. Pretty spooky.
Christmas Cake and KFC
“Christmas Cake” just refers to any kind of cake decorated in some wintery, semi-Christmassy style. I don’t think there is a particular flavor. The ones I have had are quite delicious and beautifully decorated (the Japanese are masters of cakes and sweets, particularly in the European traditions). Often the convenience stores put makeshift stands on the streets and peddle cakes to pedestrians heading home after work. While I don’t recall ever seeing a “Christmas Cake” in any of the Christmas celebrations of my home town, it doesn’t seem like a particularly strange practice.
The thing that sort of caught me by surprise during my first celebration in Tokyo, was how everyone was looking forward to chicken from KFC. This year was the first year I actually indulged in the Colonel’s fine victuals. There was a loooooooong line outside of the shop (seemed longer on Christmas Eve than Christmas Day).
If you order in advance, you can procure a whole roasted chicken and some very large family sized buckets of roasted chicken legs and breasts and thighs. At the shop I visited in Nakano, the fried menu had been limited to original recipe. Crispy strips (my fave) and chicken sandwiches, wraps and the like were unavailable until the 26th.
One more thing about Christmas Cake.
Short & Sweet
Christmas is not a national holiday so if you’re not a foreigner working for a foreign company, chances are you’ll be working on Christmas. You won’t be meeting up with all of your family from all over the country and sitting around a traditional feast with wine and a roaring fire in the fireplace. Although these days a lot of families with small children will set up a small tree and some decorations and may even go through the whole Santa-san charade, the kids just get one present or two. They may receive it on イブ (“ibu”, Christmas Eve) or first thing in the morning before going to school. Family celebrations are short and sweet. There are still a lot of families who don’t celebrate at all – in fact, they might not even know which day is Christmas, though they know it’s Christmas season because you can’t get away from the ubiquitous Christmas music and lights.
So who is Christmas mainly celebrated by? The truth is Japanese Christmas is basically a holiday for couples, and young couples at that. Perhaps they’ll enjoy a romantic dinner (chicken, of course) washed down with some expensive wine or champagne. イブ (“ibu” – “eve,” as in Christmas Eve) is a pretty big business day for intimate restaurants. If they can get the day off, many couples like to make a quick getaway to an elegant hotel. Some hotels offer a Christmas package which would include a dinner and Christmas Cake. From my own experience, I’ve gone to 旅館 (“ryokan,” traditional japanese style inn). The room is a classic Japanese room with tatami floors and a futon. A yukata (a kind of kimono) is also provided. We like to choose rooms with a private hot spring bath attached to the veranda, so you can kick it in the steaming hot bath and look at the mountains and sea and snow. It’s a pretty awesome way to spend Christmas! The food at a ryokan will be traditional Japanese fare. Sashimi, rice, miso soup and whatever local vegetables and meats are in season. Of course, they provide you with a complimentary Christmas Cake.
The shops start playing Christmas music and putting up decorations 2 months or so before the actual day. Some of the most extravagant and high-tech illuminations in the world are right here in Tokyo. I don’t want to think about how expensive the electricity bill is for these projects or who’s paying for them… but they are really beautiful. In the US, it seems like Christmas decorations stay up until at least New Years, and some people keep them up until January 6th (The Epiphany still being part of the religious observance of the Christmas Season).But in Japan it’s all over on the 26th.
You’ll wake up the next day and won’t see a single light, wreath, or Santa-san. The clean up is so efficient and thorough that if you hadn’t actually seen the stuff up, you’d think there was no such thing as Christmas in Japan at all.I used to think that this was just the silliest thing ever – an example of Japanese over-efficiency. But recently, I have another theory. The biggest holiday in Japan – the big family holiday which brings everyone from all over the country back to their home towns – is お正月 (o-shōgatsu, New Year’s Day). It’s not a very consumer driven holiday, but it is a rather solemn holiday and it IS a real Japanese holiday, deeply connected to the culture and history and language. I’ve come to think now, that while Christmas is all fun and all, they clean it all up quickly to get people into the mind set of o-shōgatsu and remove all the distractions of this foreign practice. And if that’s the case, fair enough. It’s their damn culture, they can do what they want with it.
Since this is my first blog post, I’m in need of feed back. If I’ve left anything out or been unclear, point it out and I’ll add it to this when I expand it for next year’s Christmas post!!
mαrky( -_-)凸 Continue reading “Christmas In Japan!”