Before I came to Japan, I wondered what Christmas would be like. It is not a Christian country and New Year is a much more important festival in the Japanese calendar. So I wasn’t expecting to see many Christmas trees. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The shopping centres and public areas around Tokyo have their decorations up even earlier than many do in the UK and – kids being kids – everyone is excited about Santa’s arrival, presents and cake. In school we play games, make Christmas decorations and sing songs, much the same as you do. In one class, a student got the words to ‘Jingle Bells’ slightly muddled and all his classmates jumped in to tell him the right ones. You’ve got to get it right for Santa!
Despite – or perhaps because of – everything they have been through, the small people of Ishinomaki are no strangers to the Christmas anticipation. I could imagine kids in temporary housing asking their mums if Santa would be able to find them, just as my brother and I did after our family moved house late one year. The charity Free Tohoku was determined to give them a reason to smile this Christmas and so ‘let them eat cake!’ was born. The idea was to give each family some treats – Christmas cake and cookies – as well as shopping tokens for other things they needed. Thanks to the generosity of so many, fundraising efforts were a great success.
To read more of this post, please download a copy of The Teas That Bind, the story of my experiences in Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, available now from Amazon and Lulu.
thanks for writing this blog…and please do come back soon 🙂