Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas in Japan

Saturday was my school's Christmas party. Me and my (ex-)housemate were asked by the boss to dress up as Playboy bunnies - apparently it's a yearly tradition. We obliged, but I think most of the students were freaked out more than anything. After the party we went around Osaka still dressed as bunnies and had a pretty good night. Surprisingly, no decent photos have surfaced on Facebook yet...

I say my ex-housemate as he's now moved out into his girlfriend's place just across town.

Practice for my Ramones cover band on Sunday went well, and now we have just about enough songs to start planning for a gig.

I just finished reading Dave Mustaine of Megadeth's autobiography - Mustaine: A Life in Metal. It's a good read as he has a pretty interesting life story, eventually finding faith as a Christian. But it didn't really match up to Slash's autobiography, which I'd read just before. Slash's was much more well written, and his stories were more extreme, so it was pretty hard to top. And more importantly, he wrote a lot about the development of Guns N' Roses' songs and albums. I was looking forward to something similar and learning about the writing of Megadeth's albums, but for some reason Mustaine didn't spend much time on this, and I think the book suffers as a whole for it. Next up I have Lemmy's and David Lee Roth's autobiographies to read. Reading these books makes me wanna start writing music again...

My transcript for my journalism masters came in the post today. I finally got to see all the grades I got for each module. It's funny how I spent so much time and energy studying for this and now I've basically forgotten about that whole year of my life and I'm not using my journalism skills now in any way. Part of that is probably because I'm in a different country, and my lives in Japan and the UK always seem quite disconnected. I was having a chat today actually with a co-worker who has a degree in journalism and he feels exactly the same way as me - he lost interest in journalism as he isn't prepared to kiss ass and climb the ladder as a journalist. 

These days at work I talk a lot about Christmas with the students, and I've learnt a lot about Japanese people's attitude towards Christmas. I don't know why they celebrate it to be honest. In fact, most of the older people in Japan don't really get behind Christmas as they don't view it a Japanese tradition, which it isn't. From what I can tell Christmas only really started to get popular here around the 1970s, and around this time KFC launched a big campaign which has left them forever associated with Christmas in Japan. It kinda makes sense - we eat turkey and they eat chicken - but it seems that any fast food will do these days, as a couple of students have said they always eat pizza on the 25th. Some other families seem to eat traditional Japanese dishes, such as nabe, but that kinda defeats the point of Christmas, as it's meant to be something special and different from the rest of the year. There's a big run-up with Christmas decorations and music everywhere, and every shop offering some kind of Christmas campaign, but then everyone works on the actual day and it feels like a letdown... Most Japanese people seem a bit confused by the whole thing to be honest, and none of them know the nativity story. 

Even New Year, which obviously has a much longer tradition in Japan, doesn't seem to be that special to the Japanese people. Basically all my students tell me they don't like osechi, the traditional New Years food, but they still eat it. I once ate it though, and it was probably the worst meal I've ever eaten, but I assumed Japanese people would enjoy it. I think Japanese people just don't really like holidays or special days - they have nothing else during the rest of the year, whereas we have Pancake Day, Easter,  Bonfire Night etc.

By the way, Japan just had a general election, in which the slightly more conservative party beat the the slightly less conservative party. It was a foregone conclusion though, so no-one really batted an eyelid about the whole thing.

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