Here's the breakdown of my Christmas in Japan. It's more or less the same secular, non-Christian, holiday I've been celebrating for the last five years.
It starts with a light show in Shobara, where the illuminations dazzles our weary eyes with twinkle lights. The frigid air nips at our cheeks and we retreat to a 400 year old Japanese styled tavern where we sit in a warm kotatsu (obviously a recent renovation from 400 years ago) although the actual pit fire rages on by the entrance. We eat a lovely zenzai (mochi rice dumplings in red sweet bean soup) which is a traditional winter food in Japan (i.e., think of hot chocolate).
Christmas day we head to Amakusa (famous for the Christian revolt lead by Shiro Amakusa in 1638). There's your Christian part in my Christmas. While in Amakusa we stop off for lunch at a new seafood restaurant. It was about $15 dollars for an amazing Japanese style platter. Then we head to the boat, which has been sitting in the bay with a rundown battery. After putting around the bay for a while, the white caps getting to high for a local trawler, we head back into shore.
Returning home we get ready to head out to the Ringer Hut, a champon fast food franchise where I eat one of my favorite Japanese styled food, a Nagasaki dish called sara-udon (but it's not udon). It's basically champon styled sauce mixed with a cabbage stir-fry and pored over crunchy fried noodles. It's delectable!
After dinner, still a little hungry, we stop by a yaki-tori vendor and buy some grilled chicken out of the back of a van. I know what you're thinking... sounds a little dodgy... but they're everywhere in Japan and it's well worth it. Standing in the cold eating hot chicken styled kabobs. I wash mine down with a cold Coke I retrieved from the vending machine. A Santa Claus adorns my cola, reminding me what I had almost forgot, today was Christmas.
(P.S. Christmas is not a holiday in Japan--so normally everyone is at work. But this year Christmas fell on the weekend.)
Happy Holidays Everyone!