Dec 26, 2004

Random pics #4~6: A small sampling of Christmas in a nation of heathens

So what if only one percent of Japanese identify themselves as Christian? As a commercial holiday Christmas is alive and well in this country, and marketing heavily targets young couples and families with small children. Below is a window display from a store in Ginza. Take a closer look and you may notice the "snow" whirling around in these globes. Each globe holds a different world landmark - the Empire State building, la Tour Eiffel - but Corcovado's Christ the Redeemer takes center stage.

Of course, concepts such as Santa Claus and the Christmas tree were also imported and adapted to a greater or lesser degree to mesh with Japanese sensibilities. Sometimes it can be confusing which customs are Western and which are Japanese inventions. The perennial favorite "Christmas cake," for example, is something I don't remember growing up with in the states. And a coworker of mine was surprised to learn that we find our presents under the tree. "Don't your parents set them by your pillow early in the morning?" she asked me incredulously.

The sparkling tree below was found wedged in a just-right space between two shops in Ginza. I watched a mother corral her three kids for a group photo (not pictured here) ...

... while across the sidewalk anybody and everybody with a camera phone stopped to snap a shot.

Light displays all over town are consumed in this fashion. Few linger to bask in the festive goodness; just take a quick pic, possibly sha-mail (photo mail) it to a friend, and move on. A tornado-shaped light display for a Japanese pop band (also not pictured here) mixed in with other holiday-themed light sculptures gets equal camera time. Borrow, assimilate, mutate, proceed.


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