December 26, 2009

Observing Christmas Day in Japan

The day after Halloween, Christmas decorations went up. Our commercial center is as decorated as in any western country, and there's a park filled with people admiring the lights and Christmas tree (which will go down today, along with all the little mechanical dancing Santas along the main street, leaving just the lights, which will now be New Year decorations.

This is also the month of the bounenkai (forget-the-year-parties) which companies host for their employees. Picture groups staggering out of restaurants discussing where they will go for the 'second (or third) party. Most folks also get bonuses this month, so it's a shopping month too-- many for Christmas presents, even though they might have a difficult time explaining the meaning of Christmas, since perhaps only one percent of Japan is Christian.

To further mix things up, the twenty-third of December is a national holiday, the emperor's birthday-- but not Christmas day.

On Christmas Eve, bakeries and supermarkets sell very popular 'Christmas Cakes'. Restaurants benefit also, as they are full of young couples as it's a special 'date night'-- Christmas IS about love, right?

I don't mind the fuss, for if there were no commercial “Reason for the Season”, then there would be no reason for Japanese to ask-- even if it's only voicing a nagging question at the back of their minds, “What does all of this really mean?”

I go about I sporting a Santa hat and am regaled with “Santa!” wherever I go, while I happily give out printed Christmas messages-- about 300 this year-- that they eagerly take and read, assuming that, since I'm a Westerner, this is the accepted thing to do.

Wherever you are and however you celebrate this Christmas, may you have a wonderful love-filled day.


There was a gift to each of us left under the tree of life 2000 years ago by Him whose birthday we celebrate today. The gift was withheld from no man. Some have left the packages unclaimed. Some have accepted the gift and carried it around, but have failed to remove the wrapping and look inside to discover the hidden splendor. The packages are all alike: in each is a scroll on which is written, “All that the Father hath is thine!” Take and live!"―Frank S. Mead

December 24, 2009

Guided Tour of Christmas Lights by Andrew

Andrew was excited and wanted to share a video of the Christmas lights in the large dining and living room shared by the several families living here. I didn't have much to add since the nativity scene we used in China is in Tokyo-- but there was no lack for decorations, since they've been doing this for fourteen years and each year added something new-- this year the blue lights in the beginning of the clip.

This is my first attempt at posting a video, so please let me know if you have any problem viewing it-- Thanks!

December 22, 2009

Christmas Activities Update and What's Coming

There has been quite a gap since my last post-- sorry. Last month I was set to launch a second blog as a companion to this one. However, while this is still on the way, I was bushwhacked by a week of sickness and then onset of our busiest season.

I have to redirect the site in the next couple weeks-- before I have to pay for two more years of hosting. It will be a complete website, replacing, and will have several different 'areas' with permanent pages as well as the new blog.

The reindeer in the photo is Andrew. He has been performing with me quite often lately and is doing really well meeting and relating to people. His Japanese has also greatly improved-- mostly just by being with kids his age and joining in their activities. A Japanese family with ten kids-- eight still with them-- came to live with us in July. We also have two young ladies staying with us-- helping, just as I did last year, with our Christmas programs. So we've nearly filled up this former guest house/hotel's ten bedrooms.

I'll put up Christmas and New Year posts here soon-- including photos of our team visiting hospitals and old folks homes-- a dozen or more, three open-house events, and street performing... stay tuned!

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?—Bob Hope