Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Christmas isn’t really an “event” in Japan, more of a marketing campaign and a prelude to New Year’s Eve which is laden with tradition, nostalgia and routine. It’s kinda my speed as i am def turned off by rampant commercialism quasi-religious sabre-rattling which comes around. 

Regardless, with new family (and more family arriving in 2020) i wanted to wrangle a bit of festiveness – also acknowledging been a long while since i had vaguely “regular” christmas and while this was atypical, established some new routines, scratched an itch… after all, with the turmoil in my life the last years, there is admittedly some misgivings and rather tough emotions which come around during all this hoolpa. Most importantly, got to show love and respect for wife and in-laws. 

PS You can see a bit of building up for Christmas and read a riff between a friend and i about this holiday in Japan in: Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

What follows are a few poorly-photographed artifact of activities from Dec. 24 – 26 JST. Carry On!

First off, Dec. 24 (christmas eve) we made dinner of grilled mackeral, squash, pickled cucumbers and tsukemono carrots, greens, miso soup, tea, rice, lotus root, and whatnot. Yup, not off to a very traditional start – ha!

Christmas morn, we opened our stockings (pictured above) purchased from a 100yen store ($1), nothing but the best! and enjoyed toast with cream cheese and my kaki (persimmon) jam which i am always talking about, and nashi (pear). My sock had snacks, Ryoko’s had expired 35mm film and a necklace and snacks. 

Then we went to post office (one of my fave activities of course) and i wore a Santa cap (borrowed from Ryoko who wore at Mae Maes Christmas concert) to the amusement of the post office staff and the kids at the grocery store which was our next stop. Folks are stocking up for New Years time during which many stores are closed or scaled back hours and folks generally wanna hunker down. 

Then we picked up a pre-made feast from a great lil cafe called Sakura-mi we had ordered a while back when we went on a little lunch date. Here’s the café’s post box.

And i got to make a fire in the wood stove. So yeah, post office and fire making in the same day! Pleased. 

Took the grub home and set up at parent’s house (next door).

…all sorts of meat (roast chicken, little chicken wings, salmon, 2 kinds hamburger, shrimp fry with tartar, some tomatoes and potatoes and some incredible smoked bacon, plus made a salad. 

We dug in with vigour (eating for two in this case).

We also took the wrapped gifts and little shrub/tree. Note: sarong from Ceningan Divers

F-i-L Takushi scored a pasta making kit complete with heavy duty pasta roller, strainer pot, garlic press, recipe book in Japanese, specific flour etc. He enjoys cooking and makes a big curry batch once a week. Recently retired too and looking to learn new things. Right away plotting udon and ramen with the new setup.

M-i-L Junko got travelling rucksack, pearl necklace and a book of paintings made by me and/or us in Ceningan featuring post boxes, funiculaires and flowers. 

Among other items, i got Ryoko a custom made energy gemstone necklace and bracelet made by an interesting travelling lady dba Gemstoned Jewelry whom i met in Moncton, New Brunswick bartending at a Japanese resto.

Your corespondent received a sweet outfit (called a samui) in green cloth and a fresh set of oil paints and stack of canvases. Hooray! I love practical leisure wear and looking forward to working with oils again (can’t really use oil paints while on the road). 

also two other items i ordered for myself (i believe “Homer gift” is the term) i opened up with the group: a hand-printed book made in Nepal by a yogi-tripper-poet-writer from Woodstock NY and 10th anniversary double vinyl of NNVN by pal Dan Mangan.

Moving on, Boxing Day’s “meaning” required some explanation but regardless was a great excuse for a leisurely breakie (though the croissants look burned in the snap) with multiple beverages. 

…followed by a pizza toast lunch like our own little kissaten. 

Then off to the library for books about baby stuff, kimono stuff, cooking stuff… and a little elevator goofballery – hey, i promised lousy photos right!?

The library is great and features a load of foreign language books and books about Japanese culture for me – plus there’s a digital editing suite and recording rooms listed to investigate. I checked out a huge stack just so i could practice the self-check-out machine (ote to self: make sure rabbit doesn’t chew on books). The bus goes pretty much right there from our house, and importantly in the lobby is a respectable coffee shop. 

Then a coffee break for planning baby announcement “strategy” :) on a rare rainy day here – i explained that it felt like Vancouver. Plus with my Team Canada hockey sweater, Steve Sizzou toque and Cowichan sweater enhanced the Cascadia weather vibe. Note: That’s the city admin building behind us. 

OK, you are up to date :) Today we start getting ready for New Years which is the big deal here (obv). My first “real” experience (i was here for a NY in early days but alone in a cold foodless apartment in an unfriendly place). Will keep you posted. All the hugs. 


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