Tokyo Christmas and New Year - Emporer's birthday and Lille Juleaften / 23 December 2014
Today is the Japanese Emporer's birthday, a public holiday, and for us, Little Christmas Eve. It is also light, bright and full of sunshine.
Our Christmas cake has come together well, looks right and fills the apartment with just the right aromas, in spite of some interesting dried fruit substitutions. The final verdict will of course have to wait until 25th.
Potato and butter shortages threaten to scupper the traditional ScandiBrit Christmas my family is accustomed to. The butter shortage, with subsequent rationing to 200 gms per person, also threatens the newer Japanese Christmas tradition of a fresh cream and strawberries sponge cake.
Serious hunting has tracked down a potato variety which looks like it will survive the necessary toffeeing process and careful butter buying has given us enough to bake klejner and pebernødder.
Wrapping paper has also been a conundrum. Japanese do make wonderful paper, but don't sell it in sheets big enough for wrapping gifts and of course the glorious little pieces don't look at all like Christmas. Tokyo Hands, my favourite craft, DIY, hobby, altogether lifestyle store, came to the rescue with metre squares of Christmassy wrapping.
I've never seen the shops so crowded, or people so very laden with bags. I'm told that Christmas is a little similar to Valentines day, with particularly romantic couples giving each other gifts. There are so many wheelchairs and buggies queuing for lifts, the day requires much patience.
I so much enjoy not being given a wide birth,
being allowed to squeeze my way through, like anyone
else; being recognised as a person, not trafik.
And no trace of the ubiquitous speeding jokes,
what bliss! Above all, the mentality that sees
the possibility of offering service
as a human delight, no chore, just a pleasure;
common courtesy that does not single me out
with a tedious sigh and a fed-up facial
expression. And no pressure to be super-crip;
or the continuous burden of proof to find
evidence of not being a scrounger, a cheat;
a drain on the physical, financial, and yes,
the emotional framework of what passes for
enlightenment, or civilised society.