Monday, November 22, 2010

メリークリスマス !

Even before Halloween, Christmas decorations already adorn many shops and houses in Hirakata city. Christmas trees; lights; English-language Christmas music; Santa Clauses color the atmosphere. What is Christmas in Japan about? It is for sure a Western tradition incorporated within the Japanese culture, but implying several differences. Only one to two percent of the Japanese population is Christian, even so Christmas in Japan seems not to be limited by a religious purpose. On the contrary, it looks like focusing mainly on the commercial aspect of this yearly celebration. Christmas Eve is the night for couples who want to spend a romantic time in restaurants and hotels; the time also to eat the main dish of the day, the Christmas cakes (made of sponge cake, strawberries and whipped cream); to exchange presents and cards with friends; and I even heard that it is an especially overcrowded evening for KFC restaurants! Basically, family meeting is not the primary aim of this celebration, as it becomes also the case in Canada.
Christmas day is not a holiday for Japanese people. Since they work during the day, Christmas Eve is more celebrated. Hopefully, sometimes December 25th is on weekends so that Japanese people can enjoy for a longer time this happy day. For some, Santa Claus is played by Hotei-Osho, a Japanese monk bringing presents to children in every house. And for others, it is the big-belly-white-and-red man who brings on his back the big bag filled by gifts.

Neither a religious thing nor merely a commercial one, Christmas in 
 Japan while being influenced by the West tends to create a tradition meaningful for the Japanese people and, at the same time, makes Westerners thinking about their own Christmas traditions. What does it represent for us?

 Websites about Christmas in Japan:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sweet Late Afternoon

In every Ozu’s films, an atmosphere of peacefullness and pleasantness shines through them. These images made me think about this movie director and led me to choose the “sweet late afternoon” as the theme of this blog.

Here is a man lying down on a bench beside a small river. A much crowded route is also near the sleeping man. As you may have already noticed, Japanese people often sleep in public spaces - at least I’ve seen many of them doing so. In subway; in trains; in class; on a bench; in libraries or in cafeterias, a Japanese person might be taking some rest. What impresses me is the way they succeed to fall asleep! With so much noise around or so much jogs making them toppling on their neighbour’s shoulders, we can ask ourselves why do they feel like sleeping? Are they really exhausted? And if they are, could we make some reflections about their way of life? Or maybe it could be some kind of non-social interaction (for example, when a whole-length bench in the subway is occupied by sleeping people)...However, they can for sure find a way to take some released time at anytime of the day!

This picture shows a quite old man riding on his bicycle and the following one an advanced-age man walking alone. This may be a pleasure promenade since they are following a route going around the park. In Japan, obviously, old men do some exercises too. Indeed, I have never seen so much people including old ones doing as much bicycle riding - moreover, on the almost-same looking bicycle. Still active, they go out, enjoy their time and maybe they get to be involved in social interactions – which can be the opposite for other old people from western countries for example.

This last photograph taken in Sanjo, Kyoto shows a river followed by a path welcoming every type of people: young couples; party-people; solitary people and so on. I think this is an extraordinary place! Besides, we can enjoy this type of place in several cities of Japan. Afterglows light their way as they walk along the neighbourhood getting ready for the night.