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:

1 comment:

  1. Christmas in Japan is a great visual anthro topic to explore along the lines of "The Japanese Version."