little sarah Big World

Tag: christmas

Christmas in Japan

City Sparkles

The beautiful thing about Christmas in Japan is that, in a country where Christians account for only 1% of the population and upwards of 70% of Japanese claim no religious affiliation, they’ve dispensed with the sacred and spiritual altogether, distilling the holiday down to a pure, commercial venture.

In this sense, it’s exactly like in the US, but without any of the pretense, which is equal parts refreshing and disturbing. Blind devotion transcends nationality, but Disney must have signed a deal with the devil for the level of allegiance and sincere enthusiasm it garners from most Japanese.

The Mouse is in the house, friends. So Chad and I went and searched him out.

Lights, Crowds, Chaddo

We began at Tokyo Station, following the crowds through the mid-town shopping district to see what amounted to twinkly lights on busy tree-lined streets, though to surprisingly stunning effect.

Taking Pictures of Picture Takers

From there we were herded from one Disney-themed tree to another. Don’t be fooled by photography–most of these were only slightly bigger than you’d see in someone’s house; for us, the real fascination was following the fervor.

Princess Tree

Also not captured in these photos: policemen with bullhorns corralling throngs of thousands as snap photos of light displays that are easily trumped by many US front lawns at Christmastime.

Roller Coaster...of Love

From Tokyo Station, we caught the subway over to Tokyo Dome City, where the Christmas “Illumination” continued, but with fewer people.

Light Tunnel

Tunnel of Love

We explored a light tunnel, and then rode the Thunder Dolphin, a roller coaster with a drop so long (218 ft) that I ceased feeling fear and accepting that this was my new reality–that I would fall into nothingness, forever. We purchased a commemorative photo, in honor of: best coaster faces, ever.

All the Pretty Little Colors

We ended our night at Wins, nearer to the Tokyo Dome, where we bowled 3 rounds and poured illicit (and cheap) whiskey into our vending machine-bought cans of ginger ale. Then Chad ate a burger at a boardwalk-style eatery, just before closing, and we rode the train home, in bed before midnight.

Tokyo Dome, December, at Night

The next morning (Christmas Day), we traded in Japan’s traditional Christmas Cake (strawberry shortcake) for pancakes with fresh fruit and yogurt. And for Christmas dinner, we opted for soy meat with broccoli in place of fried chicken. (The whole Christmas cake and fried chicken phenomenon in Japan is a prime example of the ways in which advertising has directly and intentionally warped and misconstrued the holiday to glorious, frightening all-American effect. They order buckets of KFC in advance, like we would do with Turkeys for Thanksgiving).

Lights in the City

Then went and saw Gravity in 3D. All in all, a magical, one-of-a-kind Christmas.

Merry, Scary Christmas

Christmas Altar

Sundah Dolfin

 

This is how we did it. Details to come.

 

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming…

Dear Readers,

I’m not normally a fan of wishlists or specific gift requests, believing that gift-giving is more of a test of how well the other person knows you than an way of getting exactly what you want for free. In the past, I’ve even decried my step-mom’s family’s straight-to-the-point manner of Christmas exchange–“give me this, this and this, please, and thank you.” Where is the mystery? The equal potential for disappointment or glory?

All the Colors of the Wind

But that’s when I still lived in The Greatest Country on Earth, if our lone criterion for greatness is the ability to buy and consume whatever you want, whenever you want. Yes, this has led to rampant obesity and wanton ingratitude…but it’s also led to widespread kale, and unbridled vegan options.

Of course, no gift could ever compare to the love, patience, and kindness of my family, friends, and anyone who has ever read this blog and shared with me a moment of connection. It goes without saying that all I want for Christmas is to feel loved, love, and loving. To know that I make even the smallest positive impact on the lives of others, and to let everyone know what a world of difference their presence makes in my life.

Drift

But I’ve thought up some second place items, just in case. IF you are at all inclined to mail something all the way to Japan, then this, dear Santas, is my Official Holiday Wish List:

– All of the dried fruits and raw nuts and seeds

– Good, fancy, dark-as-night chocolate

– Herbal teas, and if you can track down Celestial Seasoning’s Almond Sunset tea, I will give you my first born. It is the great white whale of herbal teas, like what “For the Love of Nancy” is to Lifetime: Television for Women

– Biographies and/or diaries of amazing women–Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Lucille Ball, Shirley Temple Black (etc). Lately my reading list has included Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Hesse’s Siddhartha, and the collected writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski. I maybe need to go in the other direction for a bit.

– Any and all of the books by Mary Roach, or other such fascinating, well-written non-fiction

– ProBars for days, or other, similar, on-the-go chow for running vegans

– Vegan protein powder, but only if you work for TwinLab and your name is Sperry and you made it yourself and can get it for free

– Letters, pictures, kind words, gentle thoughts. I am making almost all my presents this year, trying to take good care of myself and be a cheerful, helpful and strong presence in the lives of those around me. As I wrote to my friend Eric today, “I want to be bigger and better than myself.”

But I also want good things to read and healthy food to eat. So, that’s the list, if you are so inclined. Thank you for indulging me in this non-standard post, and happy December!

Another Happy Little Leaf, Hibiya Park

Love,
Sarah

comin for ya baby snakes

Oh, man. Oh, Friends. Christmas happened. So did New Year’s. And before that, a wedding. And before that, a road trip, and before that finding out about moving to Japan.

Before that it was Thanksgiving, so basically what I’m saying is that things have been a nutso landslide of friendship, family and festivities. Also love. Also the freezing, freezing cold of a Salt Lake City winter, tempered–if only for a brief respite–by 10 days of car ownership.

What I am saying is that we are now one week into the New Year, and I am feeling the opposite of resolved. Burnt out, yes. Behind on my accomplishments?¬† Absolutely. But you’ve got to start somewhere, so here’s a catch-up. More words (and more pictures) to follow.

Brandi's early-20's apartment is nicer than any place I've ever lived

 

sprinkles in the sink = sinkles

 

(from coworkers!)

 

a few of literally dozens

 

Australians and Americans, together, musically

The name of the game now is “getting back on track.”