Ok, so what is Christmas like in Japan?
Well, everyone is definitely AWARE of Christmas here. If you wander into a mall, you might even mistake it for a Western mall - pictures of Santa Claus and snowflakes on shop windows, etc. But culturally, it's definitely different.
Here, New Year's Day seems to be the most important family holiday. On New Year's Eve (my students tell me) mothers are very busy preparing special dishes to be eaten on New Year's Day. Christmas, on the other hand, is not a family holiday, but more like Valentine's Day in the West - a night on which you DON'T want to be without a date! Restaurants are packed, and often offer special 2 person set course meals.
We had to really work at creating a Christmas atmosphere in the apartment, but with the affordable video rentals (100 yen - about $1/week!), and mini Christmas tree, it was a solid success.
Ooh, one lucky boy got a guitar for Christmas!
One lucky girl got the cutest, fuzziest, little pyjama set you've ever seen.
And of course it wouldn't feel like Christmas without a traditional Christmas dinner. We don't have an oven here, but we were fortunately able to find a tasty roast chicken.
Incidentally, in Japan, Colonel Sanders (Yes, THE Colonel of KFC fame) is actually a Christmas icon. It's pretty rare to find turkey in Japan, but apparently with his chicken, white beard, and red logo, The Colonel has become a major part of Christmas in Japan. We fortunately did NOT have to eat KFC for Christmas, but many students have told me that to them… Christmas means KFC.
Wherever you are, I hope y'all had yourself a fingerlickin' good Christmas!