Christmas in Tokyo
When I first came to Japan in August, it never dawned on me that the Japanese would celebrate Christmas. But as December rolled around it became very clear the Japanese were totally into Christmas. Lights and decorations sprung up everywhere. The Christmas displays in Tokyo could give any major city in the States a run for their money.
The whole thing seemed so surreal. I had to know why, so I asked my friend Midori to meet me at Shinjuku station one of the epicenters of Japanese Christmas fever.
As we strolled past the endless light displays I said, “I really love how you’re so into Christmas, but I can’t help wonder why?”
She gave me a crooked smile. “We are a complex people.”
“Okay, I get that. But aren’t you Buddhist?”
“Oh yes. But that has nothing to do with why we celebrate your holiday.”
I was tempted to tear off my scarf and strangle her. “Then tell me why.”
She stroked her diamond tennis bracelet. “Because we love bling.”
I laughed. “Okay, that makes total sense.”
A furrow crossed her brow. “I don’t mean to offend you, but we Japanese tend to adopt any tradition that is sparkly and fun.”
Having been in Japan for several months, I didn’t have any problem believing her. “So does Santa come to your houses too?”
A look of sheer joy crossed her face. “Of course, Santa is fun! He comes through the children’s windows and leaves a present under their pillow.”
Knowing that fireplaces are few and far between in Tokyo, the window made sense. “Why only one present? That doesn’t sound very fun.”
She gave me a smile. “We have to be practical. Our houses are small."
I held back a chuckle. “And what about Christmas dinner?”
Keiko grabbed my arm. “Follow me.”
She led me down a side street and she stopped in front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken. “Here you go.”
She took a deep breath of the aroma wafting out of the restaurant and pointed to the menu. “Nothing says Christmas in Japan like a party barrel bucket of fried chicken!”