Posts Tagged ‘Christmas in Tokyo’

Christmas Day is really Valentine’s Day in Japan

From where I come from (Singapore), Christmas Day is a time to drink and party way too much, with the occasional obligatory gift to colleagues and family. Unless you’re Christian or Catholic, Christmas is just another public holiday.

In Japan, it’s similar in that respect — religion has no presence on December 25. In fact, you don’t even get a day off and I think it seriously affects expats who are used to celebrating it seriously. They feel kind of sad and lost in this strange land that doesn’t see it as a day for bonding with family.

And the weirdest part about Christmas in Japan is it’s really Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day exists, too, but it’s not really for lovers. In Japan, it’s associated more with corporate culture where the women are expected to give chocolates to the men. It’s always the opposite here. Then, there’s White Day, which is March 14, when the men have to return the favor, so the chocolates go back to the ladies in the kaisha (office).

When I taught English to Japanese adults a year ago, all my students complained of this tiresome ritual and chocolate jumps twice in price the day before. Most penny-pinching folks will buy boxes two weeks before the actual day to save money and it’s not too early so that the chocolate goes bad.

But Christmas Day is a time for unicorns, violin playing, diamonds, and marshmallows to come out in great big grand gestures. Even then, only the young and starry-eyed think it’s an important occasion.

Photo: mrhayata

Odd sighting: Christmas crusader in Tokyo

I used think everyone in Tokyo dressed like the kids in Harajuku, but when I arrived, it was obviously not the case. The media does like to portray Japan as another dimension where weird stuff happens and people dress like freaks.

When I taught English, my Japanese students used to protest that the Western media is not portraying their culture and lifestyle as accurately as they would like.

Waves of salarymen in identical black suits and OLs (office ladies) in generic skirts and cardigans in the train stations actually make you think again if Japan has really that many people with a unique sense of style. They do, but in pockets of the city, and they orbit in a totally different atmosphere.

Yesterday, I spotted this flamboyant old dude standing up with both hands up in front of his car. He didn’t move for a whole five minutes. There were people and cars streaming past him but he just didn’t budge.

I chuckled and wondered what on earth he was up to. Was he a right-winger? Or was he anti-Christmas? Who knows. He had a pretty nice sedan with two Santa Claus dolls and a miniature Christmas tree. Maybe he was trying to promote Christmas in his own way?

He zoomed off in his car after I took a picture of him. Very odd, indeed.

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