This evening, at Ochanomizu station, a kid stepped off the train shouting “Meri Kurisumasu” to his friend. The two words poked me into remembering it was Christmas. Right now Christmas feels like a distant, misunderstood foreign custom, impossible to explain or reproduce.
Tokyo manages the superficial part. As early as mid-November the city becomes wrapped in Christmas. But the whole experiece is different, more a trend than habit.
The Emperor`s birthday justifies a national holiday but Jesus`s doesn`t. Streets are lined with Christmas trees but they are not conifers. Nobody goes carol-screeching, and none of the Santas are pissed (many of them aren`t even blokes).
At Nishiogi, I got off the train. By the ticket gates, Santa was selling Christmas cakes. Santa, around 20 years old, wore a short, red skirt, she was employed by the 7-11 convenience store chain. The cakes on sale, all sweet, frothy sponges, were themed.
“On special offer right now we have the AKB48 (girl band) and One Piece ( a manga series) cakes,” she tried to tempt me. I would have paid double for a mince pie instead.
I got home and had dinner with my housemates. Between us, we made a token effort at Christmas with Slade – on Youtube, smoked salmon - from Hokkaido, and I think somebody made something approaching a cake. I felt faintly farcical, especially when dragging my laptop downstairs to subject everybody to Noddy Holder. Christmas is all in the mind, and my mind needed Noddy.
Now I am ready to go back to Japan for a bit. So here`s Yasashisa Ni Tsutsumareta Nara, a totally unrelated to Christmas song by Yumi Matsutoya.
I`m getting into this signing off with a song, perhaps I missed my vocation. Anyway, Meri Kurisumasu.