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Happy Holidays December 7, 2009

Posted by Dru in Tokyo.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Happy Holidays” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-jM


Last year was my first year with this blog and I talked about the differences between a Japanese Christmas and a Western Christmas.  It’s a little early for Christmas, but with December having started already, it’s the holiday season.  The actual Christmas season starts on November 1st, and gets into full swing on December 1st.  It also signals the party season.  If you have ever visited Japan in December, it’s highly advised that you be careful when taking the trains after 10pm.  In fact, you should always be careful after 10pm.  It is this time when people start to make their way home after a night of drinking.  The end of the year is a very important time for Japanese people to celebrate the end and have one last party.

Bonnenkai is essentially a Christmas Party, or for non-secular people, a Year End Party.  Offices typically have at least one party at this time, but depending on the company, this can increase significantly.  In North America, there tends to be an average of three Year End Parties, at least from my own experiences.  There is usually one for the department, one for the company, and possibly one with friends.  Sometimes, this is the only time to meet old friends as people can be busy with their work and their own personal lives.  On the extreme end, people could have up to three parties each week, or about 12 in the month if they have to have a bonnenkai with their customers.  Needless to say, this can put a lot of stress on a person’s liver.  Typically, restaurants are busy over the weekend, and there are always special bonnenkai deals to be had if you book ahead.  Be aware that sometimes they are not better than ordering on your own.

Other than bonnenkais, the only thing that happens during the holiday season is to head around town and see all of the Christmas lights.  It has become very popular for different shopping areas to have their own light display.  As always, Ginza is a hot spot for lights, although it’s not spectacular.  Roppongi is generally a more interesting area as they have the Tokyo Midtown, the Roppongi Hills areas for lights.  This year, there will also be another Lightopia event in Marunouchi along with the typical Marunouchi lights.  If you have seen the Christmas lights in the last few years, especially in Tokyo, there won’t be too many new displays.  Each year, there tends to be one major new light display, while the others are only slightly updated.  The general designs tend to be the same.  Below will be a link showcasing the major areas where you can see some lights.


Christmas Light Locations (All of Japan):  http://www.rurubu.com/season/winter/illumination/
Christmas Light Locations (Tokyo):  http://www.rurubu.com/season/winter/illumination/list.asp?KenCD=13

Note:  The three boxes in the key are, in order, “There is a Christmas Tree”, “There is an event”, and “There are fireworks”.  Unfortunately, the events will depend on the location, and I am not sure when the fireworks might be.  There are only three places where there are fireworks:  Tokyo Dome (December 14th at 7pm for about 3 minutes), Toyosu Lala Port (December 24th at 8:10pm), and Tachikawa’s Showa Kinen Park (December 19th and 24th at 8pm for about 5 minutes).

Tokyo Dome Illumination Information:  http://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/event/illumi/index.htm
Tokyo Dome (English):  http://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/e/
Lalaport Fireworks Information:  http://toyosu.lalaport.jp/special_event/
Showa Kinen Park Winter Illumination Information:  http://www.showakinenpark.go.jp/2009winter/wvi2009.html
Showa Kinen Park (English):  http://www.showakinenpark.go.jp/english/index.htm
Mapple Ilumination List (Tokyo page, you can surf to the Japan list page):  http://www.mapple.net/sp_illumi/list.asp?PREF=13
Nihon Kanko Illumination List (Tokyo page, you can surf to the Japan list page):  http://illumi.nihon-kankou.or.jp/list/result.php?m=1&c=03&c2=13

Note:  All sites are Japanese unless specified.  If you are curious about locations in a specific area, please feel free to ask with a comment.  I’ll do my best to provide a small list based on these sites.


Merry Christmas December 25, 2008

Posted by Dru in Uncategorized.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Merry Christmas” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-5H


Today marks the 4th Christmas in a row that I have spent in Japan.  I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas wherever you are and I hope the holidays haven’t been stressful.

Christmas in Japan is a very unique, yet very commercial experience.  It has been written in many places that Christmas starts around Halloween.  This is very true.  I have been listening to Christmas music in Starbucks for the last 2 months now.  In fact, Christmas starts rolling out about a week or two before Halloween.  Without Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day) or US Thanksgiving, there is no other holiday to signal the start of the Christmas season.   However, unlike America and Canada, Christmas is generally isolated to a few homes and most shops.  There just isn’t the overload of Christmas lights, unless you go looking for it.  Thankfully, in Tokyo, you can either hide from it, or find it pretty easily.

So what happens in Japan?  Well, Christmas is celebrated on December 24th, not the 25th as in North America.  They tend to side with Europeans in having a big meal on Christmas Eve.  However, unlike the family event that happens in North America and Europe, it’s a couples affair.  People go on dates to KFC.  Yes, KFC.  Somehow, the Colonel had the marketing genius to turn Christmas into the one day most Japanese people eat fried chicken.  I believe this is an Australian thing.  One of my Aussie friends said he eats fried chicken for Christmas.  That’s too bad, because I love to eat turkey for Christmas.  If a couple is still young in love, they tend to go to a romantic restaurant.  It’s very nice, but good luck finding a restaurant on Christmas Eve.  The only good thing is that Christmas dinner itself is easy to find.

If you are religious (Christian), finding a church is relatively simple in Tokyo.  Midnight mass is always easy to remember, and it is still beautiful.  As always, it will be different depending on which church you attend, but it’s still nice to go.  The only difference is that you’ll always see at least one group of young teens/adults that go in casual clothes and wild hair expecting something special.  Generally, they leave before the services even start.

On December 25th, if you are expecting to celebrate Christmas, good luck.  Unfortunately, they tend to tear down all of the decorations and replace them with New Year’s decorations.  It’s a very short time to change, but I always wish they’d keep the Christmas decorations up ON CHRISTMAS DAY!  Oh well, that’s Japan.



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