Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Japanese Musings IX: Meri Kurisumasu!

world-map osawano


Here’s a little seasonal snippet written way back in 2000,

A Merry Christmas from Uncle Travelling Matt!

Keep travelling!

Uncle Travelling Matt


Links to all the Japanese Musings:

Series 1

Japanese Musings I: Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Japanese Musings II: O-ha!!!

Japanese Musings III: The Thin Blue Line

Japanese Musings IV: Nihon no Shokyu

Japanese Musings V: The Sporting Life

Japanese Musings VI: A Bad Day

Japanese Musings VII: Time, time, time…

Japanese Musings VIII: The Joys of Internationalisation

Japanese Musings IX: Meri Kurisumasu!

Japanese Musings X: It’s Cold Outside!

Japanese Musings XI: Moomins and Mydo Cardo

Japanese Musings XII: Engrish

Japanese Musings XIII: Valentine’s Day

Series 2

Japanese Musings 2.1: Arrival: Tokyo

Japanese Musings 2.2: Arrival: Inaka

Japanese Musings 2.3: Riding the Kamioka-sen

Japanese Musings 2.4: Onsen

Japanese Musings IX: Meri Kurisumasu!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

It's Christmas time again, and what better time than this is there to talk about a Japanese Christmas? Now of course the Japanese are not Christian (as a general rule), nor are they even Islamic so they don't even regard the Holy JC as a prophet. Considering this and the fact that Christmas is basically a celebration of all that is JC, then I assumed that it would be a bit of a non-event here in the Land of the Rising Sun. But how wrong was I. For I forgot three important factors in my equation:

1. Christmas is Western, and Western is cool.

2. Christmas is fun, why should they miss out?

3. Christmas is blatant commercialism these days, and blatant commercialism is something that the Japanese excel at.

Therefore, I'd like to wish you all a Meri Kurisumasu!!


However, whilst the Japanese do celebrate Christmas, and indeed use it as an excuse to become as Westernised as possibly, it does differ considerably from the "Season to be Jolly" at home. For a start, there's none of that 'let's remember the real meaning of Christmas' here. Hardly bloody likely, since the real meaning of Christmas is distinctly un-Buddhist. Instead, the religion is taken out and cheesiness inserted in its place. Everywhere you look, there's Singing Santas, Dancing Snowman, more neon than is necessary and piped tinkly music.

However, the most unusual aspect of it all is the Christmas Dinner. Now back in Blighty one would associate that with the whole family getting together, stuffing themselves with Turkey, then watching the TV or drinking. But not here. What do the Japanese do for Christmas dinner, (if they are lucky enough to get in).

Family get together? No.

Hearty meal at a hotel? No.

Expensive restaurant? No.

They all go to KFC.

I am not joking, Christmas is Kentucky Fried Chicken Day. Those heart-warming people from the Mid-West put on a special Christmas menu of Chicken (no Turkey note), and Christmas Pudding, and the masses flock to their tables. It's especially popular with young couples in love I believe.


Christmas this year also revealed something special to me. That is, that the kids at my High School must surely be amongst the stupidest in the world, (and Class 16 in particular). Now I always knew that Osawano Chugakko did not represent Japan's Intellectual Elite, but this lot really take the biscuit. For my 'Christmas Lesson' I set them a quiz which was not only incredibly easy, but I wrote all the answers on the board for them beforehand, repeated them all several times and got the Japanese teacher to translate everything. But to no avail. The results were as follows....

Question 1.

Which country did the Christmas Story take place?

a). Israel

b). Egypt

c). America

Most got this one right though there were a few who were convinced that the wise men must have visited Minneapolis.

Question 2.

What was the name of the baby?

a). Frank

b). Jesus

c). Dave

A unanimous Dave on that one.

Question 3.

Where do Christmas Trees come from?

a). Holland

b). Germany

c). Guam

Thankfully, only one guessed Guam.

Question 4.

Rearrange the letters to spell out a Christmas Song


Most got this one since the choice that I'd given them consisted of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" and "Jingle Bells", so the number of letters alone should have given it. Two did plump for "We Wish You A Merry Xmas" mind.

Question 5.

Write the Christmas date in European System.

A = 25-12-2000

We did that two lessons previously. But that was two lessons ago, most drew a blank on it.

Question 6.

Which country does Santa Claus live in, (Hint: It's the same one as the Moomins)?

Now I was told that we must teach that Santa lives in Finland, which may be where Lapland is, I'm not sure. However, my kids were unanimously convinced that he resides in the state of "Moomin Valley".

Question 7.

What do people eat at Christmas?

a). Hamburger

b). Steak

c). Turkey

They all got that one!! But I did carefully miss out Chicken or KFC to avoid confusion.

Question 8.

Who appear on BBC television every Christmas Day?

a). Queen Elizabeth II

b). James Bond 007

c). Akebono

They end on a high note, all right! Though I must admit I would have allowed James Bond since he is on TV every Christmas anyway. Akebono by the way is a Sumo wrestler. I would not have allowed him.

So with that over and done with it's time to look forward to a cheesy, Santary, KFC Kurisumasu. Not bloody likely!! I'm off Down Under instead.


Written 19th December, 2000, Oswano-machi, Japan

Next Musing: It’s Cold Outside!

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