This year there might have been a bit of distance between us and our families, but we made the most of technology and skyped our loved ones before, during and after Christmas!
Two nights before Christmas we went to Miyagase to look at Christmas lights with our good friends Sarah and Johnny Geary.
We did have to drive over an hour just to see Christmas lights, but the fact that there were Christmas lights at all in this country was exciting!!!!Though Christmas isn't a Japanese holiday, you can still find Christmas cheer in small doses throughout Japan. Miyagse however, takes it up a notch, and actually has an entire park full of lights! They even have a Caucasian Santa that the Japanese line up to take their picture with!
Miyagase is famous for the park where they host a light display every year throughout the month of December! It wasn't anything like some of the grand light displays I have seen in America, but they did their best to make the park appear Christmas-y! We felt like we were at home, even if we were surrounded by Japanese people! There were booths all along the sidewalks trimmed with lights, where vendors sold treats and eats to passersby whom had come to enjoy the Christmas lights! Not surprisingly, there would be a booth where turkey legs and hot chocolate were sold and right next to it you would find squid and fish on a stick!!!!
ET and an American flag on top of a food stand, with Celine Dion singing Christmas Carols in the background...the Japanese's way of making it feel "American"! (Yet when I sang out loud to the familiar music, they stared at me like I was a foreigner!?! Who knows why? ;)
Not that they see Christmas as a Christian holiday, it’s more of a romantic holiday to them, but in the mix of all the twinkling lights there shone a Cross!
Apparently, the biggest Christmas tree in the country...it isn't the size of the tree in NYC, but it was big and beautiful to us! (As well as the hundreds of Japanese who were taking their pictures in front of it!)
The next night, Christmas Eve, we stayed local. For the first time ever, Nick and I had Christmas dinner alone, just the two of us! We went to a little Japanese restaurant near our house in Yamato.
Our Christmas dinner…Japanese noodles and fried chicken! (A weird combo I know, but after ordering Gyoza, edamame, noodles and rice, we decided to try their "Christmas Special" of fried chicken! Haha! Guess that's what they assume us Americans eat on Christmas!)
After dinner, Nick and I met up with some friends to attend a Japanese Christmas candle-light service!
There is a church within walking distance of our house called Yamato Calvary Chapel. We had heard super things about Yamato Calvary and decided to finally give it a try on Christmas Eve. We walked the ten minutes to the Chapel and were greeted at the door by a Japanese man, “Merry Christmas!” The English translations didn’t stop there, we were given a candle to light during the service and a mini radio and headset so we could understand the message via an interpreter. The service was amazing and brought tears to the entire congregation. It was a candle light service that we will never forget!
Nick’s Christmas present….a 47inch LG! It was finally time to upgrade. We were still using Nick’s television from high school!
After church, Nick and I went home to enjoy our new tv and watch a Christmas movie! My very favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life....we watch it every year!
Christmas morning brought sunshine and presents....the 3 of us cozied up in our tatami room and opened gifts from our loved ones!
Christmas day, after opening presents and skyping with family, we were once again joined by our good friends the Geary’s. They brought their dog Bailey over and the 6 of us (4 humans and 2 dogs) had our own little Christmas celebration!
With 3 separate courses of fondue, cocktails and lots of boardgames, we remained “merry and bright” well into the night…no need to feel sorry for us being so far from home, we didn’t sit around feeling blue, but had the “hap-happiest” Christmas we possibly could here in Japan!
We hope you and your family did too! Merry Christmas!
(And a special thank-you to all who sent us Christmas cheer - via package, card or skype ....we felt loved and blessed all the way over here in Japan!!!)