Commerce

Today, I wrote Christmas cards to a (very small) number of my friends. It’s about two weeks to go and I’m not in any sort of Christmas mood, to be honest. Part of it is that I’m not religious and that for years already I didn’t receive any presents I hadn’t bought myself. Another part is that Japan does not really lend itself to the Christmas mood: It does not snow (here in Kyoto at least) until well into January if at all, the Japanese are not Christians, nor is there a sizable foreign community that is celebrating it, and the big Japanese thing – New Year’s – is just another week down the line.

It’s not completely ignored either though. A few private houses here do have Christmas decorations (of the gaudy American variety), and through an open window I could see a Christmas tree in a living room last week already. Stores are different of course. Even very small ones have at least some small Christmas decoration, and in the large shopping streets like Shijo or Teramachi or the big department stores like Daimaru and Takashimaya, they almost go overboard, again American style, including the annoying Christmas carols – I even heard the German “O Tannenbaum”…children looking at a store window with Christmas cards, 1910

Anyway, I didn’t even notice what was missing until my friend pointed it out while visiting the Loft yesterday when he said: “It’s all totally commercialized.” And he was right, there is no sense of tradition behind it all – because it is not a Japanese tradition. No baking cookies, no waiting for the snow, no hiding presents for the kids, no mulled wine, no “Adventskalender” or “Adventskranz” as we have it in Austria. It’s just about shopping and spending money. At least, they are totally honest about it…

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