今日も引き続きトラビスのブログ、New Year’s Cardについてのブログです。
In America, we don’t send New Year’s Cards like in Japan. It is a little different. First of all, most people don’t send anything at all. Those people who do send something usually send something for Christmas or the Holiday Season, and not for the relatively unimportant New Year.
Also people don’t send postcards (or at least I have never seen any). Usually they send a letter with an included picture or collage. My mom is one of those rare people who sends a letter. She spends a few hours typing it up. She describes the interesting things that happened during the year and has a paragraph or two for each person in the family. My wife, who is Japanese, had a interesting reaction when she first read one of these letter. She didn’t like it! She felt like the letter was just bragging or talking only about themselves… so self-absorbed! It was normal for me and I never thought about it before, but after seeing that reaction, I have to agree.
And what is more, these letters are quite long! It is a good thing that they are not common because I would not want to read more than a few of these. They are one or two pages typed! That is five to ten minutes for me to read. They are especially long when you are not interested in the content…
Recently, I think these letters are starting to disappear. Now that everyone is on Facebook, it is so easy to stay up-to-date with the details (usually too many details) of even acquaintances you have only even met once! In Japan, New Year’s Cards are still useful to help you update your address book. But the Christmas letter, and it’s pure narcissism, has almost completely been replaced by social networks. A good thing? I don’t know…
what is more・・・その上、さらに
replaced by — ・・・ —にとって代わられる
When I first came to Japan, I was surprised because, in Japan, Christmas is not a very important holiday. Likewise, Japanese may be surprised to hear that, in America, the New Year is not very important either!
In Japan the New Year last around a week and many people travel around the country to visit family and friends. In America, however, the New Year is not about family or friends at all.
New Year’s celebration is only one day, on the night of New Year’s Eve. This is usually a big party. Some people have a home party and others go to a public place and celebrate. The main event of the party is the countdown at midnight. Perhaps you know the famous countdown in Times Square New York? This countdown is broadcast on tv and many people watch. At the strike of midnight, everyone cheers out loud yelling “Happy New Year”. At the moment of the new year, couples should kiss. If you aren’t dating or married, you may be kissed by a friend or even stranger anyways! After this countdown, the party continues just as any other party. This is the end of New Year’s celebrations in America.
An interesting note about the countdown in New York is that, because America has many different time zones, in my hometown of Reno I will usually watch the countdown live at 9pm! They reair the footage again at midnight, depending on where you live.
Many people do go to parties and celebrate, but many (most?) people just stay at home. If they are awake at midnight, they might watch the countdown on TV. Otherwise it is just another day.
*Photo by Aurelien Guichard (Flickr: New York City) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I was very surprised when I saw Christmas in Japan for the first time. Kentucky Fried Chicken? Strawberry cake? A holiday for couples? This is not Christmas!
I am often asked ‘If you don’t eat fried chicken on Christmas, what do you eat?’ There are no simple answers for this question. Unlike Thanksgiving, a month before, Christmas’s menu is not set in stone. I assume most families have their own unique traditions. For example, my family has a different dinner every year. One year, we even had a ‘cooking competition’ where each family member made a dish. A winning dish was chosen at the end of the night. The most important thing about Christmas is not food, but the time spent together with our family, having conversations, and perhaps even partaking in some eggnog.
Family is great, but my favorite part of Christmas is the presents! I think I am still very young at heart. But if you think about it, presents are really awesome. When you are young receiving a present is so fun and exciting. When you get older giving presents becomes the fun part. But either way, some of my best Christmas memories are waiting in anticipation to open all those presents. On Christmas morning, I was always the first person in my family to wake up. After staring at the presents, which seemed to be begging me to be opened, I woke up my siblings and parents because I couldn’t wait any longer. When everyone was finally awake, the ‘present opening frenzy’ could finally commence.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side of gift giving as well. After opening your final present and realizing there are no more, there is a sudden feeling of disappointment or depression. After all that waiting, when Christmas is finally over it is a little sad. I often thought ‘What is it over…? Now what do I do…?’
Furthermore, Christmas has been hijacked by companies and stores in order to sell stuff. Nowadays stores start their sales as soon as Thanksgiving is over. Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday and the following Friday is called ‘Black Friday’. Many stores have VERY amazing sales. But these sales are usually limited quantities so you have to get up early (or stay up very late!) in order to rush into the store as soon as it opens or you will miss your chance. Or perhaps you have seen ‘Cyber Monday’. Many people don’t want to go outside into the real world. Instead, they buy their gifts online. Many stores offer discounts to items bought on ‘Cyber Monday’, the Monday following Thanksgiving. ‘Cyber Monday’ focuses especially on deals of ‘cyber’ or electronic goods. In my opinion, these sale days are just commercialism going too far and denigrating the family nature of Christmas.
Japan is missing this ‘real’ Christmas. But it is OK. During my time in Japan I have grown to love New Years as well. Japanese New Year’s, like American Christmas, is mostly about meeting and spending time with your family. Japanese New Year’s even has a little bit of gift giving in the Otoshidama. But, I do admit I miss the pile of presents under the Christmas tree and the anticipation of finally getting to open them…
- This sushi is also fried, has hot sauce and a creamy mayo type sauce. It is arranged in a circle around crabmeat.
- The right sushi has avocado on top. The left has tempura jalapeno (a spicy pepper) placed on top. Then more hot sauce.
- This one was weird. I didn’t like it. It has mango and avocado on top.
- Look at all that ‘Sushi’!
American Sushi is very strange. It is made using many heavy flavors and ingredients and is loaded with calories. A lot of cream, mayo, and deep-frying. It is also very spicy. Not wasabi spicy, but hot sauce spicy. The focus of American Sushi is neither fish nor rice. It is the flavors from all the ingredients and sauces together.
The sushi is strange, but it is delicious (probably because it is so unhealthy!). The sushi restaurant in my town is all-you-can-eat (there are no time limits in America) and very inexpensive at around 15~20 dollars a person. The spiciness is awesome and something I really miss in Japanese food.
So, Sushi in America is not really Sushi. But, curry in Japan is not really curry either. When something imported into another country, it is changed so it fits the taste and sensibilities of that country. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? I don’t know. But if you get the opportunity to eat American Sushi I recommend that you try it without comparing it to ‘real’ Japanese Sushi. You might even like it.