Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Capitalism

Japan isn't the place to be if you've made a bet with a friend to see who can find more "Jesus Is The Reason For The Season" bumper stickers on cars. Christianity, while legal and tolerated, is not a big deal here - though Nagasaki does have its fair share of Catholics around. I think one teacher out of all the staff at my school is a Christian, and she's a Nagasaki-born Catholic who doesn't seem particularly pious.

If you're a secular "Kristen Kringle" type (please refer to this book
for details), Japan will please you in ways not even America can. Should you find yourself out shopping any time between October 31 and January 1, you'll find the malls, shopping centers, plazas, department stores and restaurants flamboyantly decked out with "illumination" lights and decor displays (see image) and special promotions and sales. Your ears will sing and dance to myriad variations of the Wham! classic "Last Christmas" as well as .midi covers of "Good King Wenceslas" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," and if you're quite lucky you may be treated to a dainty, tinkle-y music box rearrangement of Mariah Carey's Christmas album. KFC's Christmas roast chicken dinners have become a hallowed and wildly popular tradition, and you can order a "Christmas cake" from any convenience store or bakery. I'm still not clear how a Christmas cake differs from a regular cake, but seeing as I'm spending my first Christmas (and my birthday, Christmas Eve) in Japan in just two weeks' time, I'll be sure to let you know. I'll be doing it the proper way - spending the day in bed with a lover, moaning and groaning in pain from too much cake.

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