It may come as a bit of a surprise to know that this year was the first time I have ever stayed in Tokyo for Christmas. Back in December 2003 I worked on December 25th for N*va (and had a cup noodle for my dinner just so that I could tell the story one day!) but technically that was in Chiba. Two years later I was again in Japan for the festive season but that was in Fukuoka and that was the last time I dared to stay in the country at this time of year.
Since then I have spent the latter parts of December in my home country half a dozen times and in the likes of Myanmar, Guatemala and Vietnam. With my wife working up to (and including) Christmas Day this year I felt a bit of pressure to fill the first four days of my holiday before we were to shoot off to Hiroshima for the remaining days.
My last day at work was Monday 21st and what better way to start my holiday the next day than with a trip to the dentist! I finally finish my root canal treatment which began in the wake of ‘My week of hell‘ in November. After that I went to Nakano to meet up with friends Richard and Mizuki who were back in town with their kids for the festive break. The weather was fairly mild for this time of the year but nothing compared to what they’re used to in the UAE where they currently reside. We wandered on to Koenji and had some lunch there and caught up on everything there and back at their temporary abode.
The next day was the big day for me as I had organised a drinks party at the Hub in Takadanobaba and was excited though a little apprehensive about that as there’s a pressure with being the host and trying to integrate different friends groups. I’m not one for organising anything usually but I thought it would be quite nice to get together some Japanese friends and the remaining few of us foreigner leftovers!
The 23rd was actually a national holiday but even if it hadn’t have been I’d still have started proceedings at 5pm when the place opens. Inevitably I was the first there and as I sat there on my own for nearly 30 minutes I had to wonder when (if?!!) anyone would actually turn up as I hadn’t bothered to check with anyone beforehand. My guests began trickling in over the next hour or so as 20 people attended overall which I was absolutely delighted with. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and included here are a few pictures from the night. Sadly I didn’t take photos of everyone though.
Christmas Eve used to be the big night when I was younger but all I did this year was sit around waiting for my wife to get home so we could go out for dinner. We had yaki-niku dinner at a nearby restaurant which was nice. Back at home later that night I told Rina that we’d open our presents the following morning before she went to work. She suggested that we set the alarm earlier before I reminded her that we only had three presents to open which would only take a few minutes. As it was it actually took less time!
The 25th had been something of a worry for a while as there is that air of expectancy. I was awaiting a message or call from Richard but that didn’t come till lunchtime and we finally met up at 2pm and went to Kappa Zushi for some conveyor-belt sushi. He was then lucky enough to be shown the all-new Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Itabashi-ku. Things were finally up and running and it was good to have company on such a day. Once he’d left I skyped my parents and then it was time for the highlight of the day.
The day had got off to a very slow start but ended up being quite Christmas-y thanks to friends Linden and Kae who live nearby. We went round their place at about 8pm for a bit of roast chicken and stuffing and most surprisingly some festive TV classics which was particularly nice for my wife who has never experienced a British-style Christmas. We sat around watching the ‘Bottom‘ and ‘Mr Bean’ Christmas episodes plus ‘The Snowman‘ whilst chatting, drinking and eating mince pies and chocolate and it was a really nice way of finishing the day. This was a fairly good start for our first Christmas together in Tokyo and gives us some kind of benchmark to improve upon as we almost certainly spend more festive seasons in Japan.