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Culture, Winter 2011

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

As time creeps closer to December 25th it becomes more evident that Japan loves Christmas.  It is arguably as popular in Japan as it is in America.  The difference being that it is not a religious holiday considering the majority of Japanese people are Buddhist, Shinto, or don’t consider themselves to be affiliated with any religion.  Therefore, Christmas is solely a celebration of presents, decorations, and KFC.  That’s right, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or commonly called ‘Kentucky’ is a standard Christmas meal in Japan.

Lets begin with the present’s.  Something that is quite popular during the winter months is an item called a コタツ kotatsu.  A kotatsu is a table with a built-in heater underneath it.  Underneath the tabletop is a thick blanket that traps the warm air beneath the table in order to keep a cozy place for your legs.  Japanese people commonly use a kotatsu to stay warm during the winter months and cut down on energy costs.

Also, I got a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree in the mail, compliments of my Aunt Karen.

Although it is common to see Christmas trees now, the ornaments in Japan vary in style to keep Japanese people satisfied with their undying desire for anything cute.  Nearly every restaurant, clothing store, convenience store, or even professional businesses have a Christmas theme presented in the front of their store.

Decorations are always key during Christmas season.  My parents home is always filled with countless snowmen, reindeer, Santa’s, and candy.  Why should it be any different in other parts of the world?  Luckily, Japan loves decorations so much that Christmas started in mid-November.  Stores are filled with decorations, everywhere I look a Christmas tree is in the window, Christmas lights are beginning to line the streets, and let’s not forget about the music.

At my school we just celebrated Christmas.  There was a party that all the students could come to in order to play games and receive presents.  The activities were based off of American games, but it had been ‘Japanified’ in a sense, meaning the games were cute first, Christmas second.  For example, we made gingerbread men from cork materials and did races with Santa clothes.  However we ate chocolate fondu and at the end we did the, “Cha Cha Slide”, which is commonly played at weddings or large parties for an audience familiar with the dance.  Despite its relation to Christmas being vague to say the least, the parents enjoyed watching the students dance to a song in English and snack on chocolate covered sweets.

Some areas of Japan are very serious with their Christmas decorations.  They enjoy the theme and embrace the spirit that surrounds Christmas.

With all of the decorations shown along the streets you would think you were in America.  In addition to the street decorations are businesses that have taken on the idea of Christmas as a part of everyday business opportunities.  As you can see, one bakery had taken on the idea of Santa bread.  There are even Christmas trains that are decorated and filled with Christmas music.  If you’re REALLY looking for some Christmas variety, there’s always Santa lingerie.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I’m loving every second of it at this point.  I’ll follow up with more that I notice related to Christmas soon, but until then Happy Holidays.

About travelnihon

I recently graduated from the University and am currently teaching English to all ages in Japan


6 thoughts on “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

  1. In my limited experience with the Japanese I have discovered they are a very generous, gracious people. The spirit of generosity and giving that is Christmas must be very appealing to a culture that is giving by nature. The fact that Christmas is also a season that lends itself to ‘the more the merrier’ in terms of decoration must be a bonus to a culture that also values overdoing decor. You must feel very at home in Japan right now.
    (Are those Christmas gophers in your first photo?) Love your Charlie Brown tree and your angel. And also like the utensil Christmas tree.

    Posted by Mom | December 15, 2011, 6:45 am
  2. Charlie Brown tree looks good considering how jammed into a box it was–your next job will be as a decorator. Love the huge blue tree; Santa bread and the cute Santas I presumed were part of your class cooking project. The utensil tree is very innovative. The more I learn about Japan the more amazed I am. I was very ignorant obviously as I thought Christmas was not observed in any way in Japan. Everyone loves pretty decorations and giving gifts. Grandma Fitzpatrick visited us a little while ago and said who had a small earthquake. Glad you are OK. Sounds scary to me!! Hurricane and tornado, oh I forgot blizzard and flooding, are enough weather experiences for me.

    Posted by Aunt Karen | December 15, 2011, 6:27 pm
  3. I bet you feel right at home, actually I think your mom has some catching up to do 🙂 I am glad you are having so much fun exploring and all. Your mom tells you you are having so much fun that you are not even home sick. That is so good to hear. At least for you, your mom that is another story. She told me she is glad you are having the time of your life, she has flat Brad right know and that is good enough. By the way, I think she would like that Santa outfit for Christmas. Aunt Karen is so good to you, I love your Christmas tree. My first reaction was, how did you get Great Grandma Fitzpatrick’s tree. The tree skirt reminded me of her. By the way, where is your Hello Kitty ornaments?

    Enjoying your travels and pictures, it is fun to see Japan through your eyes. And it is interesting to see how they celebrate. As your mom stated, such generous, giving people celebrating a holiday that is all about that. Too bad we don’t have more of that around here.

    Love ya…

    Posted by Aunt Deb | December 16, 2011, 1:40 am
  4. What wonderful pictures that you posted Brad. It almost looks more like Christmas there than it does here. The trees are beautiful and the Santa’s are cute. I like the tree that Aunt Karen sent to you. Deb is right, it reminds me too of Great Grandma Fitzpatricks’s Christmas tree. And oh the memories we all have of that. We all wish you could be here but we’ll all certainly be thinking of you as we celebrate Christmas Day at your parents house. Have a great day and I look forward to more of your wonderful pictures. I love you.

    Posted by Grandma | December 16, 2011, 10:36 pm
  5. メリークリスマス, 楽しいクリスマスをお過ごし下さい, クリスマスに交わされる挨拶

    ボディは、かわいい絵、焦点をあなたの女の子の強豪の友人のために購入しましたか ?

    あなたのお母さん n’t クリスマスの日にコールすることを忘れてはいけない。

    Mike Cassidy

    私は 2012 年のすべての私の旅行を計画した。 場合は、結婚していたが、 2013 年には、結婚式の計画

    Posted by Mike Cassidy | December 21, 2011, 6:48 pm

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