Against All Odds
“真っ白な時は風にさらわれて、新しい季節を運ぶ” –L’Arc~En~Ciel, ‘Winter Fall’
The holidays are here, and needless to say, I’m missing America a bit. Christmas here is more of a “lovers” holiday than anything else, and presents usually aren’t exchanged. And obviously, there is no such thing as Thanksgiving in Japan. So when last week rolled around, I found myself thinking of how at this time of year I would be home on break, eating turkey and pie, procrastinating on my many term papers and projects. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. One of my friends had the awesome idea of having our own Thanksgiving, and got permission from her host mother (since she was going to be gone all day) to have it at her house. So, Wednesday being a national holiday, on Tuesday night, six of my exchange student friends (both American and Canadian; hey, they have Thanksgiving too, even if we were a month late!) and I headed to the train station: Thanksgiving or bust!
Surprisingly enough, we actually managed to find a lot of Thanksgiving foods the week before, including a small turkey (Costco in Japan; who knew?), corn, potatoes, rolls, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Unfortunately we could not find stuffing for the life of us, but we made due. Of course, no Thanksgiving is complete without adult beverages, so we all stopped by the grocery store to pick some up. Japan has these amazing drinks called Chu-Hi, which are basically beer flavored like soda, and they come in all sorts of flavors. Grape, melon, apple, lime, grapefruit, lemon, peach…oh, how I will miss them. So I bought by first alcoholic beverages, and guess what–I wasn’t carded. I was a bit disappointed, but in Japan they’re pretty lax about the whole checking your ID thing. I guess a country has to be if it sells beer out of vending machines.
We had a crazy night playing Uno, building a chocolate house, and watching Labyrinth (YES I found the Japanese DVD!!) until about 4am. When everyone was too tired to stay awake, six of us piled into a tatami room on futons, which was roughly the size of a king-size bed. It was cozy to say the least, but I don’t think any of us cared at that point. No one woke up until nearly noon, at which time we had French toast muffins and fruit for “breakfast” before starting to cook our Thanksgiving dinner!
Both set up and clean up went smoothly with so many people working together, and honestly, it was probably the most “normal” (and by this I mean American) I have felt in a very long time. Even though we were so obviously in Japan, on the fifth story of a high rise apartment building looking over the cloudy skyline of Nishinomiya, there was something comforting about being able to say things without having to worry about being rude and not feeling like you are in the 0.6% minority demographic. No ethnocentricity intended, it’s honestly nice to have a break from being stared at on the street and being unable to communicate comfortably with those around you.
I suppose what I have to keep in mind is, even though I might miss home and all the fun I’m missing out on back in the United States during the holidays, I am truly experiencing a rare and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and a year worth of American holidays is a small price to pay for all of the incredible things I have done and have yet to do in Japan. I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and is gearing up for Christmas and the New Year. My host mom put up our “Christmas tree” recently, which is about a foot high piece of plastic that sings Christmas carols. But it’s the spirit that counts! Here’s to a wonderful holiday season, no matter which country you’re celebrating in.