I havent written an email in awhile, and so most of you wont have heard anything about what Ive been upto over here in freezing cold japan. Sadly im not in a story telling mood, so your going to have to wait awhile longer (im back home in 8 weeks).
For now ill just say that I am no longer a german POW, it didnt snow on christmas and despite being upto my third textbook, I still cant speak japanese.
If your looking for more details about my life here, you can stop reading now. All im going to say is abit about christmas in japan.
The only job ive had in japan where i needed to wear a suit. I wasnt complaining until they came at be with the tube of PVA glue...
EMAIL 6: Japanese Christmas traditions
They do have christmas here. They have plastic christmas trees, they have chubby middle aged white men dressed up as santa claus, they have shopping malls covered in christmas lights that tens of thousands of people crowd round to see, but most importantly they have amazingly overpriced cake.
In many ways its like christmas anywhere else in the world, capitalism at its best, the only real difference is that here there is no pretending that christmas means something. Except maybe for the 0.7% of the population who are christian. To everyone else its about kids getting gifts, tacky mass produced decorations, and eating cake.
Cake is from my observations central to christmas here, many people dont give gifts, or have a tree, or realise what the first 6 letters of christmas mean, but cake seems to be universal. And unlike in other parts of the world they arent picky about what kind of cake, there is no traditional christmas cake here, its simply a matter of what you feel like.
I asked my students what they would be having, chocolate cake, cheese cake, strawberry cake, fruit cake, sponge cake, ice cream cake, baum kuchen, melon cake, green tea cake, seasame cake, pound cake, etc. Oh and naturally cake comes either from cake shops or department stores, and all flavours have one thing in common, the price.
For a 17cm diameter cake you will pay $40 or upwards. I have seen cake advertised for as much as $250 (for a 19cm diameter cake, with a 15cm cake placed ontop). Why does cake cost so much? Students answer varied from "the chef is famous" to "strawberries are expensive in winter".
There is of course the matter of what to have for christmas dinner. For many the logic seems to go like this, in america they eat turkey for christmas, chickens are like turkeys, KFC is american company that sells chicken, lets go to KFC. And so is by far KFCs busiest day of the year here.
Well happy holidays, and see you in a few weeks. If your feeling bored between now and then you can always visit my blog arity.blogspot.com, it has photos...
ps I didnt have cake today or KFC.