[The American Years]

Monday, December 25, 2006

Greetings from Japan, where they don't celebrate Christmas.... Ha ha ha ha ha!

That's our running joke here. We say it every time we pass another Christmas tree, house covered in lights, or Santa hat on a waitress.

If they don't celebrate Christmas, then I don't know what they're celebrating. Maybe they don't know what they're celebrating either. I haven't figured it all out yet. Japan has adopted Santa Claus, twinky lights, Christmas carols, jingly bells, the whole shebang. It's everywhere throughout December.

Absent of course are any religious songs or symbols. So in other words it's exactly like back home!

They have even added a few things which I am very fond of. We went to Christmas Eve fireworks. That's right. Fireworks. And if I did it right you'll see evidence of fireworks exploding in the shapes of jingle bells and stockings in the sky. Christmassy!

The other addition is the Christmas cake. They are advertised at bakeries, grocery stores and convenience stores alike. You are encouraged to order them ahead. They almost always have strawberries on top, and lots of creamy goo inside. Yummy.

The traditional Christmas eve meal in Japan? Well, we had yakisoba (fried noodles) and takoyaki (my beloved octopus balls) sitting in the park awaiting our fireworks. But the more traditional dinner in Japan is KFC. The kids and I thought we would go enjoy a KFC lunch on the 24th as we hustled and bustled around. We were turned away. There was a line out the door for people picking up their evening meals. The nice employee at the door (of course, all employees in Japan are very nice) told me lots of things that I couldn't understand. I did understand just three things. He was very sorry for our trouble, it would be 30 minutes wait for our lunch, and that he was truly very sorry.

This was not an isolated run on the colonel. On our drive to the Nagoya Port area to see the fireworks, traffic was stacking up pretty bad. I thought we were still a fair distance from the action. Police were directing cars and the whole thing. It was not the fireworks crowd. It was KFC.

By the way, most KFC restaurants in Japan have a lifesize colonel at the door to the restaurant. Like Big Boy or Ronald McD back in the States, only the colonel was a real person of course. At Christmas they put a Santa suit on him. Every restaurant. There must be thousands of Colonel Sanders-sized Santa suits in storage for 11 months of the year. That's probably a single-digit percentage of the total available storage space in Japan.

So here's a slideshow of some Christmassy stuff from Japan. Included are:
* A Christmas train in the lobby of a local hotel, used as a charity fundraiser for a local orphanage. The hotel also has a 30 foot (fake) tree in the lobby. I don't think the photo included here does it justice.
* Images from a park about an hour's drive away which has lights stung and strewn all around. It's like this every night in December. There must be millions of lights.
* Our lovely Christmas Cake.
* The fireworks.

Happy Christmas!


Jotky said...

Merry Christmas!

shelbell said...

Hey thomas fam
daniel and i wanted you to know that we loved your gifts from Japan
we got your card with the wonderful school pics of the kids
we (daniel alissa and I) hung out at the house
we laid in front of the fire
cooked then ate
we repeated this process continuously throughout the weekend
i got to spend time with a new friend named eric
He took me to an outside place called the grotto
they have a little forest area decked out with lights galore
the catholics own the property so there were many different types of nativity scenes set up
sandavol (which I call my friend eric) is catholic and I also got to go to mass with him
it was a beautiful church with stained glass windows telling the story of Christ
i always enjoy your blog
my fav is the one with the pics that roni drew and the crazy march