Spending Christmas in Japan

Winter Solstice is here now as I write this (Mon Dec 22) but with Tokyo being on the milder Pacific-facing coast it’s a wonderful 18 Celsius today and all night log-burning fires are not required! (For which I give thanks to the great god of running in warm weather.

Certainly it doesn’t feel that Christmas is approaching, despite the mainstream media’s heroic efforts to inject yet more romantic pixie dust into Japanese mass consciousness by showcasing ho-ho Santas, fairy lights and couples planning Xmas Eve dates.

In fact, Wed 24 Dec is really the cutoff for J-Christmas commercial celebrations, and with the 25th being a normal working weekday, many peoples’ focus will be on tying up loose ends before New Year’s Eve and the mass-exodus from the cities for a few days feasting and resting. (I did this one year with some relatives going to the southern island of Shikoku. And it is indeed a lot of family fun.)

To show you what I mean here’s a sample Xmas advertisement that came with today’s Tokyo Shimbun morning newspaper:

Christmas in Japan

A Home Sweet Christmas theme is what a local supermarket is trumpeting - roast chicken (no turkey, alas) on the top left, various fish and meat choices in the middle and (somewhat bland) cheese and wine on the right.

And for many families, since Tuesday 23 December is a national holiday in honour of the current Emperor’s birthday (Akihito), Tuesday evening will be when these Xmas-style meals will probably be eaten.

Tune in for a post later this week and I’ll show you a snapshot of what the supermarkets are (post 25 Dec) selling for Japanese New Year. It’s quite a contrast.

This will be the second Christmas in a row I’ve spent in Japan and I will indeed miss the traditional turkey dinner, sherry & shortbread, chocolate selection boxes and the sticking out craic that my Ulster-based (and indeed all Irish people that I know of) family do so well.

(And I’ll also miss the Xmas morning run along the river Lagan and huffing/puffing up the big hill to the white house. A great way to build an appetite before lunch.)

As my next post will be on Fri 26 Dec, I’ll take the opportunity now to wish those of you who celebrate it a very Happy Christmas.

And for those who don’t, I wish you every good thing in life I wish for myself.

PS Updated 30 December:
I couldn’t find a decent supermarket advertisement for New Year goodies here in J-land, so I won’t be posting another picture. Now, if I get invited to a real O-shogatsu (New Year) family meal and remember to bring the camera, I’ll see about posting something delicious!