Okay, ready and….
Some of the cake we’d sneaked into the karaoke box was the only thing that was going to make me put my beer down. That or having the mic tossed in my lap.
At last, I would be having some of the fabled Japanese “Christmas Cake.” Or, as most Americans call it, ”Christmas what???” (we don’t really eat Christmas Cake in the states) I scooped some up and took a bite. Hmmm… Not to be a food snob or anything, it’s just that cake back in America is very sweet, and to most Americans, that’s a good thing. The cake in Japan is not so sweet, and to most Japanese, that’s a good thing. Being an American myself, eating a piece of cake here is inevitably followed by a slight sense of disappointment.
Much like Christmas itself, some things are just better back home. For many westerners, the holiday season, which is usually a special time of the year regardless of one’s beliefs, is incredibly dull in Japan. That is, at least compared with the great traditions and family togetherness that usually characterizes Christmas time. I realize that Japan has equally great family traditions during New Year’s, but unless you’re lucky enough to get a homestay, that’s something that just doesn’t apply. In Japan, Christmas is an afterthought. No one seems to really notice or care, aside from the glimpses of shopping mall illuminations or Christmas cake ads. It’s little more than a second Valentine’s Day….wait, they already have two here…. little more than a third Valentine’s Day. I think most singles and even couples would agree that twice a year for that holiday is plenty.
So what exactly would I like? Eggnog. Christmas cookies. Turkey (or ham) dinner. The crackle of a warm, glowing fire in the hearth. The scent of pine from a Christmas tree. A house filled with classic Christmas music. Exchanging presents. Visiting family. 24 hours of A Christmas Story.
These are just a few of the things I’ll be missing out on this week. How about you?
Whatever it is, chances are it’s something that KFC or cake just won’t quite make up for. So, what should the foreigner in Japan do to feel some of that holiday magic? How about nabe! I know it’s not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christmas, but hear me out. Put on some Christmas music, grab a few drinks, and enjoy gathering around a warm pot of food with friends or new acquaintances. The atmosphere is probably as close as you’ll get to genuine Christmas dinner. Even better, it’s home cooking you can do without a kitchen; it’s easy to prepare, and yet just troublesome enough to make it a special event.
And if you must, follow it up with some cake.
Of course, there’s always the karaoke boxes, the drinking parties, the dinner for two. But like I said, those things are always there. Why not make this day a special occasion? After all, Christmas comes only once a year.
That is, at least until they start having Christmas White Day here.
By the way, if you’re looking for something fun to do over the winter break, why not go out and take a photo for the ICC’s contest on Facebook? Or start practicing for the Karaoke contest happening with the Karaoke Party in January. Whatever your plans are, here’s hoping you find an enjoyable way to spend the holidays. And one more thing:
JM (ICC staff)