Breaking the annual tradition of spending Christmas stuffing my face with Quality Streets, watching my mother cry at ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (every year) and nudging my Grand-dad to stop snoring and stay awake for the movie, even though he was ‘just resting his eyes’; for 2016, I found myself having Christmas abroad in a country where modern technology meets history and tradition for the special holiday.
Japan, more specifically Tokyo, is a rare part of the world where Christmas isn’t really celebrated. After repeatedly questioning friends as to why they don’t care about Xmas, I learned that only couples see this time of the year as a holiday to be spent with one another, whilst the rest of the population just considers December 25th another 9-5 day of the year.
This was made even more evident by my unbelievably tragic university timetable (I am spending a year abroad in Japan) which claimed classes ended on the 25th December itself! Although I’ll admit it did not really affect me due to my already my low attendance…
Luckily for me, however, I had no classes after the 23rd December, so I quickly found myself in a 48 hour spiral of sushi, Japanese nomihoudai (all you can drink bars) and a blur of what can only be described as the entire population of Europe sending me Christmas themed Snapchats – all of which featured either a Christmas dinner looking fresh to death, Cringe-worthy selfies of hideous Christmas jumpers or ‘Hope you’re having fun in Japan, let’s FaceTime soon!’ messages.
Spending Christmas in another country can be viewed by most people as either a great thing or a horrible thing. The former being due to the idea that it’s something new and fresh for such a special time of the year. Who wants to be stuck in a cold country left to fight off against the aunts and uncles of Christmas past when you could be spending Christmas day trekking through the mangroves of South America?
Well just for the record, Japan has the same weather as England this time of year (bloody freezing), and although there is an escape from the crazy aunts and crying babies, there are no lush rain forests or tropical sunsets to enjoy.
Those who view, rather pessimistically, Christmas being spent abroad as a bad thing seem to firmly believe that this time of the year should be spent with loved ones and not sloppily slurping on Ramen in a local restaurant at 2:00am Boxing Day morning after a full-fledged 24 hours of drinking with friends.
As for me, however, I saw both the positives and the negatives of a Christmas spent abroad. Although I, of course, missed my family, I ended up exploring the heart of the city of Tokyo with friends, getting utterly smashed from all the sake whilst shouting ‘konnichiwa’ at every passerby and hoping I never have to leave.
So no matter your opinion on a Christmas abroad and away from the home comforts we all love, I say that we should give our aunts a rest from the ‘have you got a girlfriend yet?’ interrogation and try it, just once.