For the second year running I was in Tokyo for Christmas but it was a little different this time as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day both fell on the weekend with the 23rd a national holiday too. That meant my wife was not at work and around to spend it all with me! Hmmm, I’m still wondering if that was good or not! Ha!
It seems to have been picked up by the UK media quite a bit in recent years and indeed it is true that eating fried chicken, particularly that of Kentucky Fried Chicken, is a big thing at Christmas in Japan. I first blogged about it back in December 2007 in a post about Japanese festive traditions.
Turkey is very scarce in Japan so back in the 1970’s KFC promoted itself as the perfect food for Christmas and the Japanese fell for it hook, line and sinker. As a result, this time of year is the most successful time for KFC and Colonel Sanders statues outside their fast-food joints are often dressed as Santa. I still suspect that many people just can’t tell the difference between these two white-bearded men!
These buckets are so popular that you have to make a reservation, so I put in our order one week before and then went to our nearest KFC at 1pm to collect it from the second floor where it was all assembled by the staff within a few seconds as you’d maybe expect for fast food!
On the top of the bucket was a 2016 KFC Christmas plate with a hand written message on top to give it the real personal touch! It certainly didn’t melt my heart and make me glow inside which is probably the idea of it!
Never have I spent so much money on fast food! Just under 4000 yen for such a thing really is ridiculous but I wanted to try it at least once, and this year seemed like a good opportunity to do so. We arranged with friends Matt and Ai to indulge in this greasy feast which was supplemented with some Christmas sushi rolls and my wife made an avocado and apple salad.
The set was good but I don’t feel any need to purchase it again. Plenty of other places do fried chicken at a much cheaper price so we’ll either buy that next time or just do some other dishes.
Throughout the day I played Christmas music videos on the TV which is connected to YouTube on my tablet. The 23rd had felt like Christmas Eve which in turn felt like Christmas Day and it became even more Christmas-y later on as we watched ‘Love Actually‘ (2004) whilst eating some mince pies.
After the relative success of last years Christmas Party on the 23rd, I again organised another one for those people not going away for the festive season (and for Japanese friends who of course live here!). Takadanobaba was the location yet again and the turn-out in terms of the number of guests was pretty much the same as last year albeit a little different in personnel.
I was there from 5pm to claim the big table and thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long for guests to arrive. A couple of others were even suitably dressed for the occasion!
On Christmas Day itself we again went round to have dinner with friends Linden and Kae who live nearby. We went round their place at about 4pm for a bit of roast chicken and stuffing followed once again by some festive TV classics like ‘Bottom‘, ‘Mr Bean’ and ‘The Snowman‘ whilst chatting, drinking and eating more mince pies. This year we even played a card game in the form of ‘Exploding Kittens‘ which was good fun once we’d got the hang of how exactly to play it. I couldn’t remember at the time but it appears that I actually played this game at the start of the year when I went snowboarding in Hokkaido. The movie ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me‘ (1999) rounded off another fine Christmas Day in Tokyo.
Finally, rewinding back to my last week of work and this year I used a different song for a gap-fill activity. Usually I just recycle the likes of Band Aid, Mariah Carey, Slade (the slower cover version by Noel Gallagher!) or John Lennon & Yoko Ono (which, with the exception of Mariah, I’ve been using since Christmas 2008!) but this time I introduced some students to the annoyingly catchy ‘Wrap Myself In Paper‘ by Magnus Carlsson.
Now, unless you’re Swedish or a fan of the Scott Mills show on BBC Radio 1, then you’ve probably never even heard of it. Mills has been playing the record for many years now in the run-up to Christmas and it is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine so I thought I’d inflict it upon some students too!
Click here to read ‘Christmas 2015 In Tokyo’