All Ready for Santa
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Ready and Waiting Tea and Cookies for Santa -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 5600 — full exif
Ready and Waiting
Tea and Cookies for Santa
“Please leave a letter. Please don't use kanji.” -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 110 mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — full exif
“Please leave a letter. Please don't use kanji.”

Kanji are the complex “Chinese characters” of Japanese writing, as opposed to the two simple phonetic Japanese alphabets that he uses mostly at this point.

While wrapping presents this evening, I thought of a great response to when, inevitably, he'll hear from a classmate that Santa is not real, that it's really the parents. I'll affect an air of grave concern, then in a low voice confide that Santa brings toys only to kids that have been good, and so parents secretly get up early to check, and if Santa didn't bring a toy, they feel bad for their kid, so they quickly put one. So that (snot-nosed inconsiderate jerk of a) friend must not have been good. Oh my! Don't mention it... don't make him feel bad.... don't tell anyone...

....and so preserve a bit longer the magic that is Santa.

All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

YAY! You have “passatempo” biscuit in Japan too! I thought this only existed in Brazil!

I Just LOVE that! And I’m SURE Santa will love too!

— comment by Felipe Arruda on December 24th, 2009 at 11:46pm JST (14 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Merry Christmas Jeffrey Friedl!!!

I hope that Santa will leave some crumbs on the plate. If that isn’t proof enough of Santa Claus then I don’t know what is.

Thank you for this wonderful blog that walks deftly on the fence between the two worlds of serious photographer/artist journal and Friedl family slide show. For all of us that can’t get to Japan but maybe once a year, your blog is like a daily Japan-sulin shot.

I wish you and your family happiness, health and prosperity in the next year.

— comment by Ron Evans on December 25th, 2009 at 1:31am JST (14 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Merry Christmas Jeffrey, to you and your family, I hope you all have a great time.


Edinburgh Scotland

— comment by Owin Thomas on December 25th, 2009 at 10:14am JST (14 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Great Photos!

I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas! I know it’s kind of tough getting into the “season spirit” in Japan, but your photos are awesome and they really bring out the feeling. Thanks for sharing.

Earnie in Amami

— comment by Earnest Barr on December 25th, 2009 at 8:18pm JST (14 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

I love your explanation to all the doubting Thomas’s out there. I often ask my university students if they had believed in Santa when they were younger and most of them had. However, there are always a few who hadn’t, because their parents were Buddhists, perhaps, or, for whatever reason. I then ask them if they will tell their children about Santa when that time comes, and I think everyone one of them has said they would. I then asked them all, why?, as Santa is not a traditional Japanese custom and only began to be practiced by the general population in the 50’s. And their response is usually, once translated into English, something along the lines of “the dream”. “To have a dream”. It is strange though that there is no accompanying understanding of Christmas as a religious ceremony. And really no follow-up emotion, as Jeffrey explained, in that Christmas is a normal working day here. Even the shopping centers don’t play Christmas music on Christmas day. Certainly, Christmas only has significance here for young children getting presents from Santa and as a romantic event for couples (prior to marriage!) on Christmas Eve.

It is really no wonder that the kids can’t go to sleep. They really want to see Santa, so it is almost inevitable that they are awake, pretending to be asleep, when the mother or father quietly sneaks into their room and places the present next to the pillow. If they had the present placed under the Christmas tree, it would have made it easier to do secretly, but that part of the tradition never made it past translation.

Considering how loathe Japanese are to have guests in the first place, the entry of this rather large gaikokujin from the North Pole into the private recesses of their home can be nothing short of absolutely miraculous for the kids.

You forgot to mention the strangest part of the whole thing: the Christmas-Eve (pre-marriage) dating tradition includes a trip to Kentucky Fried Chicken! Seriously. In the marketing coup of the century, that’s part of the cultural tradition here. —Jeffrey

— comment by Arthur on December 30th, 2009 at 2:26pm JST (14 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
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