Although Japan isn’t a Christian country, they still embrace Christmas. There are Christmas decorations in most shops, Christmas music plays in my local shopping street, and light installations illuminate various neighborhoods in Tokyo. I have been a little lazy actually getting out and enjoying the illuminations. Luckily, most of them remain up until mid February so I have plenty of time to see it.
I was originally planning on spending Christmas in Kyoto. It was about two weeks before Christmas and I had zero plans. I decided it would be better to be alone and traveling on Christmas than alone and in my apartment. After I had everything planned, my company gave me assignment on Christmas day. Since I definitely didn’t want to spend Christmas Eve on an overnight bus back to Tokyo, I postponed my trip until after the new year and started to make plans with instructors that would still be in Tokyo for Christmas. I offered to host a Christmas Eve dinner at my place, featuring KFC. Ideally, I would have liked to invite everyone because no one should be alone on Christmas. However, shoving a large group of people in my apartment wasn’t exactly feasible.
We were two Americans, two Brits, and two Canadians. My Dominican friend ordered the KFC and came over early to help me set up. Minus the KFC and Christmas cake, everything was pot luck style. I went all out with homemade empanadas and arroz con guandules. My Dominican friend even made coquito. We spent the evening eating our weight in fried chicken and cake, drinking, sharing stories, and playing cards. It was a really nice Christmas Eve with some really great company and I could not have asked for a better Christmas away from my family.
After work on Christmas Day, I stopped by one of the Brit’s apartments. She was having a Christmas open house with mulled wine and snacks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long because I was meeting Snow White to exchange presents and enjoy the illumination at Tokyo Station. Unfortunately, her phone suddenly broke before we could meet and we didn’t establish a meeting point. We both tried to look for the other, but it was a particularly cold night. After about 45 minutes, I gave up. I quickly made my way through the illumination before going home and making a quick dinner. I was happy to learn she was safe, but our Christmas celebration has been postponed until after the new year.
Not bad for my first Christmas in Japan.