December is just around the corner! This post tells you how to survive the holidays in Japan.
- If you haven’t remembered to do it yet, send Christmas presents to your family and friends at home. Like, RIGHT NOW! Use EMS, or they are not going to get there in time. Ditto for Christmas cards. Easier still, organise your digital Christmas cards now, and pop a Nengajo into the mail for family and friends at home … they will probably just about get there in time.
- Order your Christmas cake and/or pudding. I order my Christmas cake from Simply Delicious Cakes in the UK, and my Christmas pudding from The Great New Zealand Christmas Cake Company.
- Shop for winter gifts (oseibo) for important people to whom you are obliged … teachers, doctors, etc. You can do this shopping online if you have someone to help you with the Japanese. You will need a credit card and an address for the gift to be delivered. Otherwise, take the names and addresses with you and head to your nearest good department store.
- Make your plans for Christmas, inviting people for tea and cake, or a potluck lunch or dinner. Or you might decide to get together at a restaurant for a Christmas Buffet (make your booking early!). Please note that Japanese often buy KFC for Christmas. You will probably need to order this in advance as well. You may be able to buy a roast chicken from a department store, but be prepared for the price! We usually just buy “tebasaki,” grilled chicken wings (a kind of yakitori) on Christmas day if we are eating at home. Tebasaki is cheaper and really delicious. We warm them up in the grill.
- Decorate for Christmas!
- Decide what you are going to be doing for the New Year. Make plans with friends now.
- Decide what you will be eating for the New Year. If you decide to splurge on Osetchi-ryouri, order it now. It will be delivered a couple of days before the New Year. Big department stores have a good selection from which to choose. Be aware that eating out over the New Year is more expensive than usual, and many of the smaller restaurants will be closed for the holidays.
- Schedule in all your bonenkai (end-of-year parties) so you don’t forget or miss one. If you are organising a bonenkai, book the venue ASAP!
- Design your New Year Cards (Nengajo). Make a list of people you want to send them to. Buy some blank nengajo cards from the post office for printing (buy a few extra so you can send a reply card when you get a nengajo from someone you didn’t remember to put on your list). Print out your nengajo and address them. Write a greeting on each. Take them to the Post Office.
- In the days between Christmas and New Year, put away the Christmas decorations and give your room or house a good clean (don’t forget the outside, too!). Get some decorations and some nice flowers. Shop for New Year food if you are not doing Osetchi (or even if you are).
- On December 31st, have an afternoon nap so you can head out to the shrines and temples just before midnight. If you get hungry, eat “Toshikoshi soba” for a late dinner.
Look out for the upcoming post about what you can do in Kyoto during the New Year