Japanese Yahoo! Answers User Asks “Why isn’t Santa Coming?”, Elf Responds with Sad News

With just seven days to go, children the world over are without a doubt already finding it hard to sleep at night. Will Santa (or Father Christmas as I grew up calling him) arrive? Have I been good enough this year? Does he know about the things I did with Jane Steepleton in her tree house during the summer?

Let’s hope that we’ve all been good boys and girls and that the big man in red will pay us all a visit, unlike one unfortunate individual who found himself giftless on Christmas day one year and took to Japan’s Chiebukuro Yahoo! Answers forums to ask the nation simply: “Where is Santa!?”

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【Photos】 Santa’s Workshop in the Real World: Chinese Production Line Workers Prepare for Christmas

As much as we love Christmas and would never hope to make our readers feel guilty for enjoying their time off and presents this year, we feel that it’s important to take a moment to remember where many of the toys and trinkets we receive each year really come from and the people who make them.

In this series of images captured by photographer Michael Wolf back in 2006, we see life on a Chinese toy production line. Crate after crate of doll heads, parts and stuffing; labourers sleeping beneath their workspaces; suspiciously young-looking girls putting together dolls; this isn’t something that most of us would like to think of while strolling through the aisles of Toys R Us.

After seeing these images, it will be difficult not to feel a pang of guilt the next time you visit a toy store or see a child’s happy face as they unwrap a Spongebob Squarepants bubble blower on Christmas morning…

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‘Tis the Season to Get Lucky: Condoms One of Japan’s Best-Selling Christmas Items

Yes, you read the title correctly: while Americans are stocking their shopping carts with presents for their friends and family, Japanese shoppers are fighting over the last box of Mega Big Boys.

Okay, that may be slightly exaggerated, but according to JEX Condoms, sales of condoms in Japan increase by roughly 8% around the winter holidays, the bulk of which is thought to occur before or during Christmas Eve.

But why? Do Japanese people have nothing better to stuff their stockings with? Not quite, and to understand why condoms sell so well on the holiest of nights, we need to take a look at how the holiday is celebrated by many people in the country.

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Japanese City Changes Name to “Xmas City” this December

On 30 November, the mayor of Yamaguchi, Sumita Watanabe, declared to Nishinippon Newspaper that his city of Yamaguchi will be renamed “Xmas City” for the entire month of December. The move is a part of a tourism campaign which involves a month-long event of festive activities.

More than simply a PR campaign, Yamaguchi actually has a valid claim as being the launching pad for Christianity in Japan and thus the “hometown” of Christmas in Japan. Yamaguchi was where Saint Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Japan, and his followers celebrated their first Christmas.

Gather around kids, it’s time to hear the story of how Christmas first came to Japan.

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Disney’s Dreamland Illuminations in Harajuku Light up Your World, You Won’t Want to Go Home

In celebration of Walt Disney’s 110th Anniversary, Disney has put together a literal dreamland of illumination displays in Harajuku, Tokyo.  A part of the larger “Walt Disney 110th Anniversary Omotesando Harajuku Dream Together Project 2012,” these light displays are open from November 1st to December 25 and are already drawing crowds of viewers.

Our female correspondent visited the display last week and tells us that while Harajuku’s Disney Dreamland illumination event is a must see for Disney lovers, even if you aren’t a Disney fan, you will surely be impressed by this awesome display of lights.

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‘Tis the Season to Go Shopping – Japanese Men Prepared to (And Most Likely Expected to) Spend More on Christmas Presents than Women

You could probably say that we Japanese are generally not very strict when it comes to religion. Most Japanese go to Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples on New Year’s, many couples have weddings at churches regardless of their religion, and a majority of funerals in Japan are conducted in a Buddhist style. And of course, we can’t forget one of the biggest holidays of the year, Christmas, which the Japanese most definitely celebrate in a huge, though not Christian, way. And now that we’re into November, it won’t be long before we’re hearing “Jingle Bells” or “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” at every store we step into.

That means we’ll soon have to start thinking about Christmas presents. (Yikes!) So, in a country that is predominantly apathetic towards religion, do many Japanese people look forward to Christmas, and how much do they expect to spend on presents? NetMile, a Japanese internet research and shopping points program company, conducted a poll to find out, and the results were recently announced. Read More

A Very PokeChristmas: Pokemon Center Announces 2012 Christmas and New Year’s Goods

Pokemon Christmas and New Year’s goods will soon be on sale at all seven of Japan’s official Pokemon Center stores.  Pokemon Christmas goods will be released on October 27 followed by Pokemon New Year’s goods on November 3.

Here’s a sneak peak!

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The Top 9 Things That Surprise Foreigners the Most About Japan

If you have ever been outside your own country, you most likely have experienced some form of culture shock.  In fact just visiting another city or town can make you aware of how things are done differently all over.  In Japan, some things are so surprisingly different for foreigners that there is some uniformity in the shock value.  Any Japanese with their eyes and ears open can be aware of what is most shocking to many foreigners.  It is makes for fascinating conversation, “What is most surprising about Japan to foreigners?  I heard…”  This riveting subject matter prompts reflection, a moment of feeling good about one’s culture, sprinkled with the ability to and laugh at oneself.

Here is a list of 9 things foreigners experience when first visiting Japan (according to Japanese columnist Ryoko Kozakai over at Excite, at least):
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Survey Shows 2 of 3 People Who Enjoy Sweets Get Lucky On Christmas, Morinaga Sells Condensed Milk Love Elixir

So you’re in Japan, it’s almost Christmas, but you still don’t have any plans for Christmas Eve and, as we established in a previous article, we know that can only be because you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend to spend it with.

Well my lonely friends, there’s still luck! A report recently published by Japanese dairy and sweets company Morinaga Milk Industry reveals that 2 out of 3 people who like sweet foods have plans for Christmas.

We want you to think about the implications of this. In Japan, saying you have plans on Christmas is basically an indirect way of saying you’ll be spending a not-so-silent night on the 24. 66% of people who enjoy sweet foods won’t be spending Christmas alone. It can therefore be deduced that people who eat sweet foods regularly have a 66% chance of getting some action at least one night a year.

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Japanese Christmas Is For Lovers

As we mentioned briefly in an article we wrote earlier this month about Japanese New Years, Christmas is a far less family-centered holiday in Japan than it is in Western countries.

Instead, Christmas in Japan is a time for romance. Streets of major cities are filled with smiling couples walking hand in hand and restaurants and hotels are booked full, sometimes months in advance.

On the flip side, Christmas can be an extremely lonely time for those longing for some holiday affection but without anyone to give it to them. Single people therefore usually make it a rule to avoid going out on the 24 and 25—in fact, if you ever want to figure out if a Japanese person is single, just ask if they have plans for Christmas.

The lucky ones, however, generally follow the basic Christmas game plan outlined below!

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