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only when it's pretty
22: tokyo christmas, wasting electricity in style


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22: tokyo christmas, wasting electricity in style - the auroran sunset

Here at abelard.org, we take a lot of photographs. Many of them are pretty or interesting. This is the twenty-second in a regular “photograph with little or no explanation or comment” feature.

Christmas in Japan is an experience! First, you will probably be working - the 23rd is a national holiday [the Emperor’s birthday], but otherwise there is nothing until the New Year. Second, the Japanese have not heard of Boxing Day. Third, they care far more about Christmas Eve, or “eebu”, than about Christmas Day itself. Fourth, Christmas (Eve) is a time for young couples, rather than family gatherings - Christmas and New Year are effectively reversed in Japan. On Christmas Eve all the young couples go out on the town, eat, drink and take photos of the lights with their keitai [UK: mobile phones / US: cell phones].

With global warming, the Kyoto Treaty and a general Japanese propensity to worry, one would think that the Japanese would not approve of wasting electricity. One would presume wrong! Come December, the city streets are suddenly awash with lights, trees, santas, cartoon characters and anything else they decide would look better with a (preferably 895MW) light bulb. And don’t forget that neon!

It is not just the city councils with tax money that ‘needs’ to be spent before the end of the year. In the richer residential areas, there are streets that compete amongst themselves for the biggest, brightest, most absurd Christmas decorations. The best of these streets are far more impressive than the city centres and far less crowded! These streets have become tourist attractions in their own right. As it starts to get dark, the streets fill with young couples and young families come to see the lights, parked cars line the streets, residents proudly watching from their windows. There is everything but the stalls selling battered octopus balls!

It is all very pretty and very silly - but I can’t help wondering at the amounts of oil being burnt. Here are some photos from one of the best such streets I have seen. This photo shows only about a third of the street, and there are four or five other streets ajoining which are similarly lit.

Christmas lights down a residential Tokyo street.. Image credit: the auroran sunset
Christmas lights down a residential Tokyo street.

Here are a couple of example houses. Some houses were so garish as to make photography very difficult [especially without a tripod!], hence these slighty ‘staid’ examples!

A residential Tokyo house lit up for Christmas. Image credit: the auroran sunset
A residential Tokyo house lit up for Christmas.

This one has a whole family of cartoon characters: Santa, Winnie the Pooh and Snoopy up in the balcony, Mickey and Minnie Mouse down on the right, reindeer with sleigh on the wall, Hello Kitty near the door and Goofy standing guard to the left.

A residential Tokyo house lit up for Christmas, with cartoon characters. Image credit: the auroran sunset
A residential Tokyo house lit up for Christmas, with cartoon characters.

Some of the individual decorations are rather pretty. Here are two very different snowmen:

Two lit up snowmen in Tokyo. Image credit: the auroran sunset
Two lit up snowmen in Tokyo.

And now, a rabbit. A rabbit??! What has a rabbit got to do with Christmas, I hear you ask. Well, nothing, but it has a little to do with the New Year. In Japan, there is no old man in the moon, nor is the moon made of green cheese. Instead, there is a rabbit up there pounding rice to make mochi - a sort of sweet sticky rice cake tradionally eaten at the New Year. Hence come New Year, you can buy just about anything with embossed with a rabbit design.

Sparkly rabbit with carrot in Tokyo. Image credit: the auroran sunset
Sparkly rabbit with carrot in Tokyo.

And from a different continent - freezing fog fairies in process of decorating pine trees for the winter solstice.

Frosted trees by freezing fog fairies. Image credit: abelard.org

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