Posts Tagged christmas in Japan
MERRY CHRISTMAS! In the evening The Penpal and I went to a Christmas party hosted in one of the NOVA apartments.
Most of the teachers who taught in Numazu, Mishima, and Fuji all lived in one apartment building just north of Numazu station. My apartment was the only company apartment in a different location – it is about a 15 minute walk away from the rest of the teachers.
The Penpal and I had been together for over a year and a half now, but it wasn’t very often that she got to spend time with my coworkers. The party was a great chance for her to meet everyone, and for my coworkers to realize that I hadn’t simply invented the girlfriend I keep talking about.
The Penpal picked me up in her car and we drove together and parked near the apartment building where my coworkers lived. When we got to the apartment, the first thing we noticed was a narrow entrance way completely full of shoes. Japanese people don’t often entertain at home, and its really uncommon to have 20 people in a small 3 bedroom apartment. I introduced The Penpal to my coworkers and the Japanese branch staff. She wasn’t able to stay long, but it was a fun visit for both of us.
When The Penpal had to leave, I walked her to the car, and then returned to enjoy some Christmas cheer with everyone else. Christmas at home with family is great, however, an international pot luck Christmas dinner with way too many people jammed into a small apartment is not a bad substitute.
Everyone finished work early because it was Christmas Eve, so we all went out to the izakaya across the street from NOVA to celebrate. Despite being located directly across from the NOVA branch, teachers rarely went to this particular izakaya, opting instead for the cheaper options. English teachers are notoriously frugal with their beer money.
We all had lots of food and possibly a few too many drinks, prompting a very boisterous round of Christmas songs as we approached midnight. We got so loud that the staff asked us nicely to keep the volume down. We took this as a cue to move to karaoke.
Being away from home for Christmas is hard. Being around a bunch of other people who are trying to forget they are also away from home for Christmas does make things easier.
Merry Christmas from Japan!
I was woken up by two phone calls from Canada wishing me Merry Christmas very loudly into my hungover brain. It was nice to hear some familiar voices, but did they really need to shout?
At work I got to inform a student that she was ready for a level up. If a student’s ability is good enough, a teacher will fill out a level up slip and put it in to the student’s file. The next teacher will then agree with the level up, or give reasons for denying it. I was the second teacher, so I was happy to agree and then left the teacher’s room to find the student on her way out. I told her that I had a Christmas present for her and handed over the level up slip. She burst into a huge smile and looked like she was ready to give me a big hug. This would have been very un-Japanese, not to mention getting me in trouble with NOVA. I wished her a Merry Christmas on her way to schedule her level up test.
After work all of the teachers and some of the Japanese staff went to a Christmas house party in Yokohama. We changed trains in Yokohama station and I was surprised to see a long line of nicely dressed young couples waiting to purchase KFC. In Japan, Christmas is more of a day for couples than for families. Young couples will dress up nicely, get some KFC special Christmas fried chicken, and in many cases go to a love hotel. It’s no Christmas turkey, but not a bad way to spend the day either.
The house party was a good opportunity to spend time with some of my coworkers outside of the office. Usually I spend most of my free time with the other people in Hello House. I even got a chance to practice some of my Japanese with the NOVA staff in attendance. I would have preferred to be spending time with my family, but it was still good to be around people.
On my way home, I noticed some well dressed young couples riding home on the train holding hands. Apparently it was a good night for all.
(complete rewrite of original post)
(rewrite of original post)
Today was a day off, so The Penpal came for a visit from Numazu. Together we assembled and decorated the small Christmas tree that my parents sent from Canada. When I was young, our family always had a big Christmas tree in the living room at my parents house, and somewhere along the way we got a small tree that we would set up in the basement. The small tree had been sitting in a box for years collecting dust.
Growing up, Christmas was an important family holiday. When I think of Christmas I think of presents, snow, turkey dinner, family, watching the Grinch (animated, not live action), midnight mass, and my dad’s famous Christmas morning breakfast. Christmas 2003 will be the first time I will not get to experience any of these things. Having a small Christmas tree will hopefully help to offset a bit of the homesickness.
The Penpal had never decorated a Christmas tree before, so we had fun working on it together, even though it took about 15 minutes from start to finish. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out before she had to return to Numazu.
Christmas won’t be the same this year, but at least my room is feeling a bit more Christmassy.
(I didn’t take a picture at the time – the attached pic is an example of the size of my small tree)