Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New Year’s 2013

2012 was an amazing year for me.  It was my first full year on Kumejima, my first novel was published by Tuttle Publishing, and I had many amazing experiences thorough it all.  New Year’s is one of the most important times in Japan.  If you’d like to learn more, checkout my various blog posts on New Year’s. Since New Year’s is such a big deal here, and because I appreciate the support of every reader, I’ve decided to release The

Cross Cultures – Holidays in Japan and America

All this month on my radio show Haisai English we’ve been playing Christmas music and talking about the differences and similarities between the American and Japanese holidays.  The overall theme we’ve found is that in many ways, Christmas and New Years are flipped between the two countries. Christmas in Japan In Japan, like many holidays, Christmas is promoted by stores as a way to sell products.  Just as the Japanese version of Valentines’ Day was essentially created by chocolatiers, PR firms promote the

Bonenkai – Year End Parties in Japan

I’ve written at length about the importance of New Years in Japan.  Last year, I spent my New Years Okinawa style, and also wrote about New Years Cards.  Part of the lead up to the end of the year is an important tradition in many workplaces throughout Japan. The bonenkai is most easily explained as a year-end party.  Most clubs, moai, and workplaces have bonenkai. They are very similar to sobetsukai which takes place in March.  The reason for these end

Industrial Fairs (sangyo matsuri)

The industrial Fair, or sangyo matsuri in Japanese, is a fixture in the annual event calendar on my island.  From the English translation you might think of cars, heavy manufacturing, and other well-known industry.  In Japan, though, many products are made by very small local companies rather than in large factories.  Even when big factories are necessary, there are often many small shops acting as suppliers.  Taken to a further level, small rural communities without those major industries often have

Hagaki for New Years 2013

New Years is perhaps the biggest holiday in Japan.  In a lot of ways it is like Christmas in the states.  It is a holiday for families to come together, eat special foods, and even pray. Last year I experienced variations on New Years celebrations and there are a lot of things families can do. This holiday is so important because it marks the change between new and old. December then, is the time to prepare for this important season.

Cape Hedo

I’ve been living in Okinawa prefecture for nearly five years.  In all that time, and mostly due to a few local friends, I’ve been able to visit a lot of places on the mainland (honto) even though I’ve spent all my time with the JET Programme on outer islands.  Still, up until last month I had never been to the very northern areas of Okinawa.  I rented a car and drove up north with a few friends to Okinawa-honto’s most northerly point,