The Least Festive Things to Do in Japan this Christmas

December 17, 2008

“Holidays are Coming, holidays are coming,” as the incredibly irritating TV advert for Coca-Cola reminds us every year, but in Japan these are not holidays as we know them. Christmas has been so badly mangled by Japan’s cultural filters, that it has been rendered unreconizable. Strawberry cake anybody?
This cultural confusion has happily led to ridiculous products such as this:

I suspect devout Christians would say that the inexplicable Japanese seasonal customs of pigging out on KFC and banging each others brains out in love hotels, were not in the true spirit of Christmas.

I, on the other hand, am fully in favour of both activities and do them most weekends. Indeed, I think I might grab a bucket of the Colonel’s finger-licken’ finest right now, and use it to coax a hungry lady into the outrageous “Hotel Chapel Christmas” (pictured below. Yep, it looks like that all year round.)

Japan is not traditionally a Christian country, so I don’t expect the Japanese to adopt our Western festivals. Although, this hasn’t stopped opportunistic retailers doing their best to take advantage of Christmas, by decorating their shops and blasting out cheesy songs for the whole of December. And yet, the decorations have already been taken down and boxed away by the time the shops open for business on the 25th.
On Christmas Day, it’s all over. The big build-up has been for nothing, the decorations were just for decoration’s sake.
This can be quite depressing if you let it get to you. Especially if, instead of a stocking bulging with gifts, you see things like this on Christmas morning:

I find the best policy is to ignore that it’s Christmas Day altogether, and have fun anyway.
In fact, it might be a fun challenge to find the least Christmassy things you could possibly do.
Here are my suggestions for the most unseasonal things you can do in Tokyo over the festive period:

1: See “The C*nts” and “F*ck on the Beach” live at 20000 Volts live house.

Take in some live music, courtesy of “The C*NTS,” “Slight Slappers,” and “Painjerk”. On December 27th, at 20,000 Volts live house in Kouenji, you can see these bands and others presenting a night of music called “WET PUSSY GETS WILD vol.1”.
I’m pretty sure they won’t be singing any Christmas carols.
It starts at 18:30 and costs 1,500 yen.
Also, if you like that, on the 28th at the same venue, you can watch performances by “F*ck on the Beach”, “Scumbanditz”, and “Hacked Rabbit House”. Ho ho ho!


2. Check out Yoko Ono’s New Art Exhibition.
Here’s a very unconventional way to spend Christmas Day- at Yoko Ono’s new “interactive painting show” at Gallery 360 in Omotesando. The wailing weirdo’s pretentious paintings are the polar opposite of the traditional imagery associated with Christmas, courtesy of Norman Rockwell. She probably made John Lennon so jaded that he wrote “Merry Christmas: War is Over,” so her exhibition is bound to be highly un-Christsmassy.

3. See the “Miracles of the Human Body” show.
Fancy spending Christmas day, like Hannibal Lecter, staring at bits of dead bodies?
Well, you can, sir! Just hop on a train to Kawasaki and see the stomach-churning exhibition “Miracles of The Human Body,” featuring real dead bodies, pickled and stuff by that creepy German fella. It’s even open on Christmas day.


Kawasaki is surely a contender for weirdest place on Earth, with their deranged Fertility and Halloween Festivals and high rate of bizarre, frightening murders, so there’s no more inappropriate place to spend the 25th.

4: Watch “Lou Reed’s Berlin”
Depressed that you’re in a strange foreign land on Christmas day? You can always head to the local cinema and watch a movie, and let the story sweep you away to a happy place for two hours. “Lou Reed’s Berlin,” now showing in Tokyo, is sure to cheer you up: a concert film of Lou Reed’s 1973 notoriously miserable and nihilistic concept album, Berlin, about a prostitute committing suicide. As you sit alone, shivering in empty theatre, the relentless dirge will be the perfect antidote to Christmas blues. Or not, perhaps.