Sunday, December 10, 2017

Yule Love Tokyo in December

-- Susan, every other Sunday

Last night, my son and I landed in Tokyo for a 17-day business trip. He's here for job interviews, and I'm here to finish some book research and to meet with my immigration representative about the visa application I'll be filing in March of 2018. (I'm planning to return in late April or early May for a year, during which I'll attempt to climb the Hundred Famous Mountains of Japan and write a book about the adventure . . . more on that in the months to come.)

Today, I helped my son buy an interview suit in Akihabara. Tonight,  I visited the first of several Christmas Markets I plan to check out while I'm here: "Dream Christmas" at the Tokyo Skytree.

Dream Christmas!

Although most Japanese people identify as either agnostic/athiest, Buddhist, practitioners of Shintō, or "more than one of the above," Japanese people love holidays - and the Japanese culture embraces any excuse for celebrating, cute displays, shopping, and the exchange of gifts . . .

. . . making Christmas a regular hat-trick of awesomeness from a Japanese cultural perspective.  

"Dream Christmas" at the Skytree's Solamachi Shopping Center consists of a massive LED light display and a small Bavarian-style "Christmas Market" featuring a variety of traditional European food and beverages (glühwein, anyone?) - all set up on the outdoor fourth floor patio of the Solamachi Center.

Welcome to Christmas!

Twinkling colored LED lights decorate the patio area, creating a ten-minute strolling path lined with shimmering trees and sparkling stars.

It's full of stars...

At the center of the patio,  a row of shops re-creates a miniature Bavarian Christmas market, complete with warm soft pretzels, German sausages, and spiced mulled wine.

A little bit of Bavaria in Tokyo.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph - and those are some nice hot pretzels too...
Red Riding Hood and Hanzel & Gretel - over the mulled wine shop.

Beyond the marketplace, the lights continue . . .

Sparkly. So sparkly.

. . . with a combination of traditional Christmas themes and uniquely Japanese elements -- including flower beds adorned with elves.

Nothing says Christmas like surfing flower elves.

Some of whom appear to have consumed far more than their share of spiced adult beverages.

It's all fun and games until someone throws the first punch.

Above it all, the Skytree - lit in Christmas colors - rises over Tokyo.

The Tokyo Skytree.

Visitors can purchase tickets to visit the observation platform at the top of the Skytree, though I didn't go up tonight. Instead, I opted to heed the siren song of the fabulous Indian restaurant in the Solamachi Center. (Hot pretzels and spiced wine are all very well, but they've got nothing on a bowl of chicken curry.)

I'd never been to Japan at Christmas before, although I knew about the Japanese fascination with cultural holidays, and was looking forward to the experience. Although I've been here only a single day, my Japanese Christmas experience has already reminded me of an important truth:

Joy depends far more on your state of mind, and on your choice to be joyful, than it does on any system of belief.

A 30 foot Christmas tree entirely covered in live flowers.

Tonight at the Skytree, I saw hundreds of people joyfully admiring lights and Christmas decorations, shopping for gifts, and embracing a holiday most of them don't celebrate religiously. They smiled and strolled, ate and drank, shopped and played and enjoyed themselves tremendously, simply because it's the way they chose to experience this season and this night.

Life is a gift, a blessing to treasure. Experience everything you can, and pull the joy from every possible moment. Not all moments will be good, or easy, or pleasant - but many more of them could be, if we take the time to live--and love--deliberately.

I, for one, intend to try. And I hope you do too.

In the long run, yule be a happier person for it.


  1. Couldn't agree more with your santament, Susan!

    1. It's even better because there's no rain, dear. :)

  2. You’ve found your calling and your place of peace. You’re your own silent knight.

    1. My heart has definitely grown three sizes since I landed here Friday night. And, since I leave on December 25, I find myself saying "I have to stop Christmas from coming . . . BUT HOW?"

    2. That's easy. Just ask Superman to fly around the Earth backwards REALLY REALLY fast. (You do remember the first Christopher Reeves movie, right?) There's always an answer in holly wood.

  3. SUSAN: Don't know if you'll see this in time, or if you'll be interested, but "The Great Courses" (sellers of audio/video educational 'courses' as downloads or on DVD) has pretty much everything on sale today only (Mon, Dec 11 here, Tues Dec 12 there in Japan), and I saw one that you might find very interesting:
    The download is $49.95 for 24 30-minute episodes. They have a list of the episode subjects on the above page. FYI. :-)