Get ready, because this year we’re doing something we’ve never done before! Last year on Christmas Day we did our very first Livestream on Life in Japan from our home, so this year on December 24 at 7:00 PM we will be live-streaming our Life in Japan (LIJ) Christmas Celebration from Paz Coffee Shop, and you’re invited! There’s no entrance fee, it doesn’t matter your religion or nationality, just come and enjoy the livestream with us in person! Doors open at 6:30 PM and we will end about 8:00 PM. We’d love to meet you – please come! (And don’t worry if you live too far away, you can always join via the livestream on YouTube itself) MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
When it comes to calendars and holidays, Japan and the U.S. are on opposite schedules. For example, the school year in America begins in August. In Japan it’s in April. And when it comes to actual work and school holidays, it’s completely different as well. Sure, some of the days roughly line up (Winter break always goes over New Years in both countries) but then other holidays don’t even line up at all.
One holiday both countries agree on, oddly enough, is Christmas! Even though it’s not a holiday in the sense of a day off here in Japan, it is widely recognized and celebrated (even though I think most people here don’t know that Christmas is about the birth of Christ). But what do we do as Americans for other important U.S. holidays that are just normal days here in Japan — days like the 4th of July or Thanksgiving?
We’ve sometimes treated them like normal days, but it always feels lame when you look at social media and see all of your friends and family celebrating back home. It makes you feel home sick! So more often then not, we go the extra mile to get together with other friends and family and celebrate these holidays anyway. People like a good reason to celebrate, and it helps us hang on to our roots while developing roots here in Japan. Recently, we’ve even been melding some Japanese traditions into our family celebrations, and it makes for a really fun celebration that honors both our past and are present.
So this year as Thanksgiving came up, we decided to go all in for the celebration. We held a thanksgiving event at the coffee shop for our friends, and then we whisked away to one of our favorite vacation spots to enjoy a couple of days with our American friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving together. It was an absolute blast, and I’m so glad we went to the extra work of making it happen.
It’s easy just to sit back and not do anything for these holidays, and it’s certainly not normal to take your kids out of school for a couple of days to do something like this (talk about something counter-cultural in Japan!). But the bonds we build as a family and the memories we make while forging a new path here in Japan is something that is priceless. When we look back in the future, we will be glad we did these things, even if it meant some extra work to make it happen! The extra work spent invested in the family pays huge dividends in the future with a home full of joy, good relationships, understanding and love.
Japan is a unique experience all its own, but what is it like for our international kids who are growing up here, going to the local Japanese schools and interacting in different languages and cultures, all while squishing into a small house? Well, as we see in this episode of Life in Japan, it can be quite an adventure!
In America, Costco (along with Sam’s Club and others) have been a staple for large families and small businesses to do affordable shopping in the quantity and quality they desire. I grew up in a large family and we often shopped at these stores, so now that I have my own large family, I am more than glad that we live somewhat close to a Costco here in Japan, and boy do we make use of it. How does it help us here? Take a look.
When you think of Japan, what’s one of the first things you think about? For a lot of people, it’s the iconic mountain of Mt Fuji. Over the last seven years, we’ve seen it quite a bit, and it’s always exciting to see. But this year we wanted to try something new: an epic hike along a nearby mountain ridge at the height of Fall. We waited for the best weather when the fall colors were at their best, and we got it. This is a hike for the books, full of amazing views, friendship and humor. It was little taste of heaven.
For this video, I recommend the biggest screen you can find with the sound turned up! Enjoy!