If you've been following this blog for a while (thank you!), you might know that I'm not particularly fond of this time of the year: it's too fake, too frantic, too commercial. Especially in Japan.
I try to avoid Christmas as much as possible, although I make exceptions for mulled wine and Starbucks's Cranberry Bliss Bar.
Oh, and I bought a small stollen the other day. It was delicious.
I recently read an excellent summary about Christmas in Japan on Nippon.com. Here's an excerpt:
The jolly man from the North Pole also featured in the early days of one distinctive aspect of festive Japan, the association of Christmas Eve with romance. While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact beginning of the tradition, a 1983 special feature in women’s magazine An An on winning your man’s heart is thought to have been influential, as is singer Yamashita Tatsurō’s 1983 hit of lost love "Kurisumasu ibu" (Christmas Eve).
Matsutōya Yumi’s 1980 song "Koibito ga Santa Kurōsu" (Santa Claus Is My Sweetheart) played its part too, reimagining portly Santa as a dream lover …So Santa had a guest role, at least, in the move toward including couples and romance alongside families and presents,
Meanwhile, in the last few decades Kentucky Fried Chicken has exploited the resemblance between Colonel Sanders and Santa to dress up the former as the latter and turn Christmas into a chicken-based holiday. Many Japanese people think the season is not complete without a trip to KFC.
Here's "Kurisumasu ibu" as used in JR commercials and "Koibito ga Santa Kurōsu". I find it very hard to watch either without dissolving into hysterical laughter, but that might have more to do with the era … oh, boy, 1980s hair and 1980s fashion! … than the sentiment.
The only deliberately Christmassy thing I did this year was to walk to Marunouchi to look at the famous Christmas tree in the KITTE building, and then I ambled along to Hibiya Park and photographed a few more trees. Photos:
|Not sure why costumes from Takarazuka were displayed in KITTE, except that the theatre is in the neighbourhood.|
|Kiddies at the KITTE tree. If they're in a nursery school in Marunouchi, Daddy must be earning a fair amount.|
(It might be Mommy, but I'm betting my own meagre salary on Daddy. This is Japan.)
|I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't geddit at first. I knew the tree was from Alice in Wonderland, but|
I caught myself thinking, "Who's Yaw Taht? There's no Yaw Taht character in this story, is there?"
|This is Red Brick Square in Marunouchi, one of my favourite squares in central Tokyo.|
|The Alice in Wonderland tree in Red Brick Square|
|The Cheshire Cat! (^0^)|
|I love this square. I have a nasty suspicion it's because it's so European.|
|You can buy real Christmas trees in Tokyo, but they're expensive. The biggish one at the back was ¥35 000.|
|This one was ¥7000, if I remember correctly.|
|This is The Peninsula Hotel. That suite at the top is called the Peninsula Suite,|
and it will cost you more than a million yen a night.
|Silly tree in front of the Peninsula Hotel. IDK. It's supposed to be arty?|
|Godzilla is in his hometown Tokyo to celebrate New Year. This small statue stands in Hibiya, in front of|
the Chanter Center. I find it giggle funny that there are wedding dresses in the background.
|Selfie. You decide whether I'm referring to the statue or the reflection|
on the right. The statue is in front of the Yūrakuchō Denki Building.
|Some fairytale Christmas thingie in the Shin-Marunouchi Building.|
You have to pay to see it. I didn't.
|Another selfie between some fairytale character and some other fairytale character. Cinderella?|
|Hibiya Park plants covered against the cold.|
|They remind me of some very prim proper Protestants going to church.|
|Tokyo Station celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. I love this station.|
|This yellow bike on yellow leaves made me smile.|
|Another African in Tokyo! This statue is in Nakadori,|
an upmarket shopping street in Marunouchi.
I leave you with the King's College Choir. This is how it should be done. Happy Christmas to those who celebrate it; happy holidays to those who don't.