November has long been a stressful time for me, because I'd usually be crashing on some major freelance projects and starting to feel the pressures of holiday planning. But these days I am feeling pretty calm. For one thing, I don't have any work deadlines (I'm on a break, ok?) and there will be no extended family gatherings to coordinate, as we're staying here in Tokyo through the holidays. The only thing I've got lined up to get us through the three weeks of no school is gymnastics camp, the week of Dec 22-26. Oh yes, they will be at a gym on Christmas Day, doing somersaults and cartwheels and bouncing off the mini-tramp, because my boys need this, I need this, and we'll still have time in the a.m. to open presents and eat huevos rancheros.
Even stranger than dumping my kids for five hours on Dec. 25 will be watching the city go on with business as usual (it's a regular work day for Terry, though he'll probably take it off). There does seem to be broad affection for the seasonal decorations -- the lights and trees, the shiny ornaments, the snowflake decals and Santa outfits, the reindeer hats and (what's this?) Christmas tree ski masks (see below) -- but I'm told that it will all be abruptly dismantled to make way for New Year's, Japan's most important holiday of the year. Here 'Xmas' is commercial, New Year's is spiritual.
Have a look...
Above: The Gap, corner of Omotesando and Meiji dori; below, up the road, near the new H&M in Harajuku
Shibuya shopping district (Parco 1, 2, or 3? I can't keep all the malls straight)
Shinjuku Southern Terrace, FrancFranc window display ("'Red' reminds me of...ketchup, lobster, rabbit eyes...")
on sale now at Tokyu Hands department store...
Atre mall, Meguro station
ferry terminal, Yokohama