Skip to comments.From 0.7% Christian Japan, "MERRY CHRISTMAS" To All (It Is Said & Seen EVERYWHERE Here)
Posted on 12/02/2009 5:54:36 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo
CHRISTMAS IN JAPAN can be a little lonely and isolated for the Westerner here. What with the distance from home and cultural differences. Little things, here and there. Missing some of the usual things from back home, especially for people like one particular 'American in Tokyo'. This year 2009 is again no different. However, in many respects I must say there is nevertheless one little thing that is so refreshing about being stuck in Japan during Christmasafter a few yearsand for the occasions one cannot make it back "home".
It is almost like the clock has been refreshingly and unapologetically turned back years to a simpler and brighter, unfettered time in our own U.S.A. An era years before the phenomenon of "political correctness" and religious censorship raised its cruel, offensive and unwelcome head in the United States of America. In many of our shared pasts, when the simple words メリークリスマス！ "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" were everywhere easily to be seen, heard, offered and received during that special season at the end of each year. There was no fear. There was no hesitation. There was no political threat. There was no busload of salivating, slick lawyers in the background ready to pounce. There were no second thoughts, "gee, should I say it or just be silent?" There was no shame. There were no silly dictates from the Scrooges on High, from school boards to the White House and Pentagon lording it over the unwashed masses that we somehow become "sensitive" and are to turn our "Christmas Trees" into "Holiday Trees", or have our kids take "Winter Break" instead, or that one must wish "Happy Holidays!", or "Seasons Greetings!" or "Joyous Winter!" at the workplace or in other areas in public for fear of "offending" unnamed people with unnamed faces of unnamed percentages
And so, from Japan this 2009, as in all yearsyes-barely 1% Christian JAPAN, where with the overwhelming preponderance of adherents to Buddhism, Shintoism and even Atheism one would think a collaborative oppression would be the order of the day, it is almost nothing BUT "Merry Christmas". This is everywhere one turns. The photos tell a story and what a story indeed my friends.
In Japanese stores, in supermarkets, at bus stops, at airports, in coffee shops, in restaurants, in office lobbies, on trains and subways, in convenience stores, in tiny cafes, in huge department stores, even in elevators in major business centers. Everywhere, in Japan, one is simply overwhelmed at this wonderful, simple two-word phrase of loving greeting which has taken such a beating in overwhelmingly Christian America through the tyrannical dictates of a very few.
I will be the first to recognize that Christmas in Japan does have very strong commercialism tendencies, tinged with secularism, with the focus being on sales, sales, sales. (Indeed, is that any different than in America?) But as I pondered these points over a few weeks in 2007 I took my camera along and share with you what my eyes saw here in Japan. 2009 versions of photos will also be on their way to this thread and appropriate links, too. Nothing will have changed in two years--no moral decay, no cultural war setbacks. Not only the eyes were pleasantly pleased day in and day out making the rounds in Tokyo in December, the ears were pleased, too. I heard the faint melody of "Adeste Fideles" in a Japanese 7-Eleven near the boiling oden. I caught the end of "Joy to the World" in a tea salon as I entered. I enjoyed"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" between in front of the sashimi counter in a little local supermarket. Huge loudspeakers in a major Japanese department store equivalent to an American Macys or a Bloomindales cheerfully blasted "The Night, When Christ Was Born" from "O Holy Night", big, red and white 10x 4banners streaming down ever four feet from the ceiling heralding "Merry Christmas!" in English. People were actually smiling. I shook my amazed gaijin head at the parts of words featuring "Christ" filling such a huge, bustling department store of December shoppers and I thought how the constipated, impeccable Windsor-knotted attorneys would be readied if such a thing were happening in most places in America these days. Ironic, yet sad at the same time! I once explained the words and concept behind the new-found "Happy Holidays" in America to a Japanese friend. He just stared at me with an odd look. It took nearly 30 minutes, before he said, "Ah, but, you Americans and Europeans-first through missionaries and later through American GIs--brought such a tradition to us here in Japan in the first place. Do we really have to stop saying or displaying "Merry Christmas", too?" It took another one hour just to explain to him the overall concept and silliness of "political correctness." He got it, but he kind of did not get it. Regardless, my Japanese friend was noticeably embarrassed and sad for us.
And I told my friend, not to worry, that people in the USA for example were really starting to rise up against political correctness and the societal ban on "Merry Christmas" in a big way. He seemed satisfied and his concerns were allayed. We were both late for separate meetings. And so, of course, I wished him "Merry Christmas" as we grabbed separate, spotless Tokyo taxis.
From Japan this year as in 2007, enjoy the photos linked to Flickr and travel back in your minds to this wonderful time in our own countrythat may just be around the corner for America again if people rise up in increasingly greater and bold numbers, and take back their country without fear--in supermarkets, at bus stops, at airports, in coffee shops, in restaurants, in office lobbies, on trains and subways, in convenience stores, in tiny cafes, in huge department stores, in elevators in major business centers, and yes, even in some places, in front of the sashimi counter. It might just even start with you, tomorrow morning somewhere at just the perfect time. And so to my compatriots in the United States of America and many other Western lands which celebrate the season, well MERRY CHRISTMAS! from Japan!
(AmericanInTokyo is a 10 year+ member of the conservative American news site FreeRepublic.com, and spends of part of each year in Tokyo, Japan. Additional photos to be taken in December 2009 to prove the authors point again, will be added to this thread throughout the 2009 Christmas Season and to the Flickr collection.)
These photos were all taken within the last two weeks of December 2007 here in the Tokyo, Japan area. Please enjoy and also think about how we, many of us in the overwhelming majority, can more fully get our Christmas back in the public social domain in America.
Another short piece could have been written about the various Japan subsidiaries of mainline US consumer product companies, fast food outlets, coffee shops, etc. operating in Japan, which do not shy away from "Merry Christmas" in their marketing and branding, and yet their headquarters in the US have a strict policy of "Happy Holidays" within the borders of a country containing considerably many, many more believing Christians than in Japan (0.7%)--our very own United States of America. I do wonder what kind of post-legal huddle corporate PR letter they might promulgate in response to THAT observation, and said request that they "Liberate Christmas" in the US since they assent to Christmas widely in Japan.
Same in China! I don’t think anyone knows the Christian % in China, but regardless, the (mostly urban) people I meet all recognize Christmas.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas!
Pinging all! Back by popular demand. ;-)
I was an American kid in Japan in 1956-58. The `shopping centers’ were full of Christmas ornaments and the most wonderful toys in the entire world. Japanese love children and it was obvious; everywhere there were bespectacled Santas who looked more like Hirohito than old Saint Nick.
It was later that I learned about Pearl Harbor.
Ironic that Japan is more Christmas friendly than some regions in America. However I live in the South; where “Merry Christmas!” is like saying, “You got a problem with that?”
Merry Christmas to you too AIT.
FYI: The epicenter of Japanese Catholicism has always been the city of Nagasaki. One quarter of all Japanese Christians died when that city was bombed in 1945.
Thanks! I asked for pics from last year though AIT. Send us some new ones this year.
You cannot find a foreigner in Tokyo who believes that story and believe me I have asked many.
It floated around as a story in the 1950s, then floated in the 1900s, Snopes and others looked into it. Oh well. Lots of stuff on the internet these days, but certainly not all of it is true. I WILL vouch for what my own eyes have seen year in and year out. Please enjoy the photos from 2 years ago. Merry Christmas! And I will add on some new ones.
My brother’s in laws are from the Philippines and the only Asian country which is 90% Christian.
They celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by attending..gulp..the 5 am masses before the 25th and say Merry Christmas/Maligayang Pasko with no liberal guilt. Bells ring at early mornings and they dont care.
I remember that thread! And I was thinking of it and you recently, when I saw the season’s first trees, signs, and lights appear in the local mall. Very festive. It’s a season for sales, but it doesn’t appear (to me at least) to be pretending to be something else.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
We will get a few taken over the next few days, thanks for the request and for keeping on me about it.
“Same in China! I dont think anyone knows the Christian % in China, but regardless, the (mostly urban) people I meet all recognize Christmas.”
Same as USA!! Nevermind, that was 30 years ago, before our large companies were run by a bunch of metrosexuals.
But only God willing. For who knows where I will be in future years? In Kenya or Papua New Guinea or Latvia or good ol' South Carolina. Could be any of them!! ;-)
I spent 3 years in and around Tokyo (Irumagawa?) in the mid-50s and I recall hearing quite a few: “Melly Kurisimasu”s from the local folks.
I remember your pix from ‘07, and how impressed I was with the Japanese enjoying the spirit of the Christian holiday. Ok, so the secular end .. but the spirit is there even in the secularism.
My daughter spent 2 years in Fukishima, the people could not have been more warm and wonderful to her. I have a very warm spot in my heart for the Japanese. As I recall, New Years Eve is a major Japanese holiday? Visiting ancestral resting places?
That would have probably been Johnson AFB, if my guess is correct.
The visiting ancestral graves is more for mid August (Obon) but some people do that in January, but many less. Mostly it is eating a lot around the home, going to a shrine to pray for a good year, wearing good clothes, watching a lot of silly TV, reading magazines and books portending what the future year will bring, usually heavy on economics and politics. Tht is typical Japanese New Year. (oshogatsu). Yes.
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