lifestyle

Japanese wives in int'l marriages share what they hate about Christmas overseas

128 Comments
By Casey Baseel

Christmas. Depending on who you are, it can be a time for getting together with family and friends, attending religious services, or maybe just drinking a lot of egg nog. But while all of those are activities of profound cultural and spiritual importance, not everyone has a song in their heart at this time of year.

For a certain set of Japanese women in international marriages and living overseas, 'tis the season for venting about how Americans and Europeans spend Christmas, and here’s their list of grievances.

The collection of complaints comes by way of blogging internationalist, and overseas Japanese wife herself, Madame Riri. In contrast to the myriad delights of the “12 Days of Christmas” (with the exception of those weird leaping lords), Madame Riri identified six problem areas while sifting through online comments from Japanese expats.

1. Christmas dinner issues

Japan tends to eat smaller portions than the West to begin with, and that difference gets multiplied when it comes to celebrations. “I don’t like meat very much,” begins one woman, “but my American husband, his British mom, and his American dad all love it. But I can’t tell them ‘I don’t want any turkey,’ so I force myself to eat it.”

Honestly, this woman would probably have a similar problem in Japan, where the traditional Christmas dinner is the even heavier fried chicken.

Even some more carnivorous women find the holiday menu doesn’t suit their tastes. “It’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” exclaimed one exasperated woman. “The amount of cream, cheese, and sauce in the recipes! I love Asian cooking, so it’s exhausting for me to make them.”

Speaking as a guy who thinks the two best places for cheese are on top of a pizza and absolutely nowhere else, I can sympathize. Still, it’s just one meal a year, and if she’s really that loath to give up the foods she loves, why not incorporate them into the meal, like many American families do with dishes from their ethnic backgrounds?

2. Choosing presents is a pain

Many women have a bone to pick with picking out presents. In Japan, young couples typically exchange Christmas gifts, and Santa usually brings something to the homes of small children. Extended family members generally don’t give each other anything for the holiday, though.

Instead, relatives often send mid-year ("ochugen") and end of the year ("oseibo") gifts to each other. These are often practical things, though, like detergent or rice.

So it can be kind of a high hurdle for Japanese wives to suddenly have to think about what to get for each and every one of their spouse’s aunts, uncles, and cousins, especially since in some countries consumables aren’t quite as accepted as proper presents as they are in Japan.

3. Pushy present requests

Sometimes, though, the problem is knowing all too well what someone wants. “My brother-in-law’s ex-wife used to send emails with a list of options to choose from for gifts for her and their kids,” remembered one woman. “And she’d always add, ‘Oh, and don’t forget the gift receipt!’”

Umm…I hate to spoil anyone’s cross-cultural epiphany, but that’s not exactly most Westerners’ idea of particularly polite behavior either, and plenty of non-Japanese people would be just as irked by it.

As long as the prices are in line with what the family tends to use as its gift-giving budget, though, it doesn’t seem like there’s that much to get worked up about here. Actually, since this is something the brother-in-law’s ex-wife did, there doesn’t seem to be anything worth still getting worked up over at all.

4. Wrapping gifts is a hassle

We’ll start with the head-scratcher here. One woman said, “Because Japanese people have an allergic reaction to wastefulness, no matter how many years I spend overseas, using wrapping paper still doesn’t sit right with me.”

The complaint about the trash generated by wrapping is a valid one, but it’s a little hard to swallow that Japan has an “allergic reaction” to excessive packaging, as anyone who’s torn into a bag of two-dozen cookies each with their own individual plastic wrapper can tell you.

A more legitimate cultural difference is the other complaint Japanese wives had: having to do the wrapping themselves. After all, in Japan, where retailers take customer service very seriously, you can get just about anything wrapped for you by the store clerk. Overseas, though, when they’re buying stuff for everyone in the family and wrapping it themselves, that’s a lot of time spent folding and taping paper, no matter how festive the pattern on it may be.

5. Getting stuck with presents you don’t like

Again, this really isn’t something that’s exclusive to international relationships, as even when both parties are Japanese, some people’s gift-selecting skills are far from world-class. Still, the above-mentioned gift exchanges between extended family members, who might not see each other that often during the rest of the year, can make for an increased chance of miscues. “Every year, my mother-in-law sends me so many clothes, cosmetics, and decorations, but they’re not really my style…I can’t bring myself to throw them out right away, but after they sit around in my closet for two or three years, I toss them.”

6. Exchanging and returning gifts

After all the effort that they put into choosing a present, some women were miffed at the ease with which they could be returned or exchanged, giving special mention to the ubiquitous of gift receipts. “I work part-time at a retailer in Europe,” shared one woman, “and every day we get one or two customers coming in to exchange a Christmas gift they don’t like. It’s usually wives with things they got from their husbands.”

Part of the reason Japan doesn’t have as much of a culture of returning gifts is because, like we talked about above, gifts between people that aren’t especially close are often consumables. Even if the dish soap your relative sent you isn’t your regular brand, you’ll still use up the bottles, right? Ditto for cans of booze.

It’s also worth noting that Japan tends to be a bit less fragmented than many other countries in terms of pop culture and fashion. Combine some fairly uniform clothing tastes and trends with the fact that a huge portion of the population is of similarly slender build, and you’ve got a much higher chance of picking something the recipient will like, and that will fit, in Japan than elsewhere.

It’s also hard not to feel like complaint #6, gift returns, and complaint #5, getting things you don’t want, kind of cancel each other out. Ditto for numbers two and three, not knowing what to buy and people telling you what they want.

International marriage is all about adapting to each other and mixing your traditions. Picking which side of the two lines above you feel more comfortable on immediately cuts the list of problems down from six to four, with one of those being as simple as putting up with a single dinner you’re not crazy about. When you stop and look at the big picture, that doesn’t seem like enough to outweigh the positives of the holiday season, and besides, after Christmas, these Japanese wives can have their husbands return the favor with a traditional Japanese "oshogatsu" New Year’s celebration.

Source: Madame Riri

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- The Potato Salad Christmas Tree and other strange Christmas traditions in Japan -- 6 challenges to international relationships (and how to make them work) -- 30 common characteristics of people who fall in love with Japan

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128 Comments
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Thanks for reminding me of the hideous tyranny of Christmas. I don't think I ever want to go back to that. It was especially hard after my parents split, and I had to spend Christmas Day in two different households, and buy personalized gifts for two large families. Really not happy memories.

-11 ( +12 / -22 )

Holy moly. That list is hysterical. I think they just want a holiday like the one in their own country, as an American living in Japan I really understand. O-cHugen. Detergent? Really? Soy sauce? It is hard for me to get excited about these gifts. Christmas Day? Work day in Japan.

23 ( +24 / -3 )

So I guess that going on a date on the 24th and KFC are better. I'm sure these moaners would feel just as put out during oshogatsu..... Bah humbug indeed.

7 ( +12 / -6 )

The lady who got a "Shopping" list from her relative(in-law) should send her a big bag of COAL! That is what Santa doles out to Rude & Selfish people ! & Stand Your Ground,Christmas is about Family & Not Shamily. as for the rest of this piece the complaints are not exclusive to international marriages.

8 ( +10 / -3 )

If your not sure what to buy, get a gift cards from Target, Macy's or other big chain outlets. Most people are flexable for Christmas dinner. You can have meat and sushi at at same time. No big deal.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

First world problems.

27 ( +31 / -5 )

Well, my Japanese buddy invited us over for shabu-shabu for Christmas dinner. But my sister beat him to it!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Someone didn't get the memo regarding the spirit of Yuletide.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Holy moly. That list is hysterical.

Agreed. Much simpler when Christmas consists of just buying KFC, a "Christmas Cakee", a single present for your significant other, and going to a hotel for the night.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Wahou, no mention of Christmas spirit in that article: generosity, peace, forgiveness. I only see the description of materialist & consumerist behaviour. Where is the human description?

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Geez, at least these wives don't have to face their husbands families and have them tell them that "If you don't like it why don't you go back to Japan".

No matter how many differences there are some of these issues could be easily solved by learning to stand up for themselves and open their mouths and let people know what they are thinking....this first one got me, why CAN'T you tell them no? No one will put a gun to your head and force you to eat anything you don't want to. Grow up! This excuse just sounds so childish.

But I can’t tell them ‘I don’t want any turkey,’ so I force myself to eat it.”

19 ( +23 / -4 )

Because Japanese people have an allergic reaction to wastefulness, no matter how many years I spend overseas, using wrapping paper still doesn't sit right with me.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! She's never shopped in Japan, I see.

I can't tell them 'I don't want any turkey,' so I force myself to eat it.

Yes, you can. Practice these words and then say them out-loud: I'm sorry, I don't want any turkey.

They will, being loving relatives, bully and joke and say racist things about Asians eating dogs, but keep repeating the above phrase until they fall asleep from over-eating.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Come on.... every one of those examples are actually pretty common whether you're Japanese or even American.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I would love to have these problems....Christmas is the one time of the year I would like to be not in Japan.

Fried chicken, hotel dates, cream-and-strawberry 'Christmas' cakes, everything packed away and done with on the 25th which is a regular working day....sad, so sad.

29 ( +33 / -5 )

Many people from North America have these same gripes. Holidays are a time when relatives get on each others' nerves.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

"But I can’t tell them ‘I don’t want any turkey,’ so I force myself to eat it.” Open your mouth and say no thank you. Yes, you are forcing yourself, nobody else is.

"Choosing presents is a pain." Really? Ever heard of gift cards?

“And she’d always add, ‘Oh, and don’t forget the gift receipt!’” So what? Simple request, either honor it or don't.

"A more legitimate cultural difference is the other complaint Japanese wives had: having to do the wrapping themselves ." Oh poor dears will they die from over work? Simply ask the store where you bought the gift to wrap it. Just think, the majority stores have free wrapping if the gift is over $20.

“Every year, my mother-in-law sends me so many clothes, cosmetics, and decorations, but they’re not really my style…I can’t bring myself to throw them out right away, but after they sit around in my closet for two or three years, I toss them.” Consider yourself lucky you got a gift to begin with. Ever heard of charity? They accept clothing, dolt.

"Exchanging and returning gifts." When in Rome. You moved there so adapt or get out.

I can sum all this nonsense up with a simple phrase: First world problems. Only if the vast majority of those hungry, homeless, and alone had these problems. Pampered, pretty princesses have no sense of reality beyond their own narcissism.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Every country in the world celebrates the harvest and the year end. We Americans believe in family just as much as Japanese.

To these wives who complain I have this to say.

You should be thankful you have a PARTNER to begin with. You may not like the food you have in front of you but at least you have FOOD.

No one forces you to eat like a glutton. IF you want a smaller portion ask for it. If you don't want that stuffing.....give it to me.

You don't like your gifts? Then maybe you don't appreciate the PRESENT. At present, your family LIKES you! You have a space at the table, you have a spot under the tree. You don't want to be on the out.

None of the things you will experience during the holidays in America are absent here in Japan.

Got a family member who got too drunk on Thanksgiving? I've seen a Japanese man after bonenkai pissed.

Got naughty children making too much noise on Xmas day? I've seen Japanese mothers getting out of Minivans at the mall.

Got relatives who ask for money? We got relatives who waste all their money on Pachinko and Keiba here in Japan.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

These are just petty complaints by people who would complain about anything that they deem 'inconvenient' and really has less to do with Christmas than everything to do with them whining.

"“but my American husband, his British mom, and his American dad all love it. But I can’t tell them ‘I don’t want any turkey,’ so I force myself to eat it.”

NO ONE would force you to eat what you don't want -- especially at Christmas -- and certainly no one would think you rude if you didn't force yourself to eat things you didn't want to. You're more likely to face that problem in Japan, and this woman wouldn't be heading to 'Kentucky' for a giant fried chicken on December 25th in Japan? And she can TOTALLY incorporate (or ask the cooks to if she's not cooking) Asian dishes into Christmas. Last time I went home I did, and while some people didn't like some parts of it, and some didn't try, which was fine, they all at least liked the additions and the choice.

As for not liking having to choose presents, having to wrap them, etc., first off the women I know are more picky about what they get than men in general, and second it sounds like these women just like to have everything done for them.

Now what Christmas CAN be, whether you're at home or abroad, is a time of great stress as well as a time for family gathering and celebration, and I think that's all this is; the women are not in their home nation, and such a celebration is probably all the more stressful, and so the problems are exaggerated and it becomes easy to complain about things that aren't really a problem. Now, if they had complaints like, "We have no family here, and it's a time to be with family and loved ones, so it's depressing," or, "few if any shops in my area are open on or around that day, so it's hard to get what we need if we don't do so beforehand," or, "We have no money, but there's a lot of pressure to buy numerous presents for people," THOSE would be valid complaints.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

Agree with a previous commenter: "FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS!!" - get a grip, ignore the idiots and just enjoy it (or go to work, like I plan doing)....

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The "allergic reaction to wastefulness" made me laugh out loud! I get more gift wrapping on an omusubi from the Family Mart than all my Christmas gifts combined!

9 ( +11 / -2 )

These are just petty complaints by people who would complain about anything that they deem 'inconvenient' and really has less to do with Christmas than everything to do with them whining.

I agree. Having a Japanese spouse we have both learned to accept traditions from both cultures in regards to Christmas and other holidays. I will wind up cooking two dinners one for the Japanese holiday on the 23rd and another on Christmas Day. Don't mind at all. As far as Item #3 goes, if I get a request like that, they would not get anything. You are not obligated to buy presents for extended family members. I normaly limit it to the very younger kids with a nice toy or some other gift, for the adults if they do get anything it will only be a gift card or just a plain Christmas card. And for the record, my family and I are pretty tight.

Not too sound too preachy, but it would seem that the writer and some of the people he interviewed don't really understand the true significance of Christmas. Most Americans have seemed to lost the way on the true meaning also, but it doesn't hurt to say to family members what you want to eat and not want. After all, it sounds like in these cases they only see them once a year, so why worry about 1 day out of 365.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Life's so hard isn't it? How terrible to have so face the dilemma once a year of whether to say yes or no to turkey.

I probably shouldn't comment on this in my state. But as a foreigner who gave up so many nice Christmases in my own country because of my Japanese wife, and who tried his best to do all the Japanese New Year things the Japanese way - gladly, but then to have his wife leave him to face his first Christmas in years alone - I think these women are much less deserving of sympathy than billions of people right now.

The irony is that for years, I was told that we just HAD to eat Kentucky fried Chicken and we just HAD to do Christmas this way. So, I think the problem with some Japanese women is this.

They expect the world to love their traditions and won't bend, but they somehow also want to change western traditions to they way they want and expect everyone to fit in with that too.

Sorry for ranting. I really do love Christmas. And i even recently got into looking forward to getting in early at KFC to make sure the chicken didn't run out!! lol

But being alone in this country hearing carols all the time will be a little melancholy.

So I'd say to these women that they have a "zeitaku na mondai".

Have a little turkey and wrap some presents just to make your other half and his family a little happy. If you can't do that for one day of the year on an important day in your partners life, maybe you need to spend Christmas in a children's hospital or an orphanage to get some perspective.

Merry Christmas

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Wahou, no mention of Christmas spirit in that article: generosity, peace, forgiveness. I only see the description of materialist & consumerist behaviour. Where is the human description?

Haha. Japanese are kinda different humans )))) Sponge cakes, KFC and love hotels with "significant" ones ))) And yes, soy souce or a bottle of oil as a present . Oh, yes, you don't need to exchange/return these "gifts".

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I'll share what I hate about Christmas overseas (in Japan): it doesn't feel at all like Christmas. Very little real Christmas cheer to be found. Get back to work!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

These complaints are the same for many people living in other countries. They don't do or have X like my country does. They don't celebrate my holidays. They don't have my traditions.... Sounds like somebody needs to move home.

I don't understand why everybody thinks that everyone else should conform to their cultural norms in a foreign country. YOU are the foreigner, YOU should conform, otherwise YOU should go back to YOUR country where everything is the way YOU want it.

If everything was so great in your country, why would you even be in a foreign one?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Spare us the passive aggressive whining, discover gratitude for all those things you take for granted, and start living.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Are we going to get an article about foreigners and what they hate about "Christmas" in Japan? Because it has to be the most un-fun Christmas on the planet.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

I wonder how the women deal with Ramadan?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Ah, bless. The thing I like about Christmas in my country is that many people take close to 2 weeks off work. You know, to relax.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Some people just love to complain. Put them in heaven and they'll wine about the noisy harp music. Marry somebody from another culture, and you get that culture - the good and the bad. I think people who whine at Christmas should be sent to live with the truly destitute for a year, until they have learned about gratitude.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

That doesn't sound like "I don't like Christmas" as much as it sounds like "I don't like making efforts to please my annoying extended family"

It's true that the people around you either make or break the holidays...the thin line between a warm family gathering and a stupid farce has the been the fodder of holiday movies for years.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Are we going to get an article about foreigners and what they hate about "Christmas" in Japan? Because it has to be the most un-fun Christmas on the planet.

I personally love Christmas in Japan. I'm able to have the Christmas I want, rather than the one that is forced down my throat. I spend the day with family, the evening with friends, and have some good food. That's all I want at xmas - family, friends and food. Everything else is superficial.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Because it has to be the most un-fun Christmas on the planet.

But dining with the Colonel is so aspirational.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

What a bunch of loser whiners. Any Christmas dinner I ever had had Turkey, along with numerous vegetable and carb dishes, but apparently someone is force-feeding these women meat only until they burst? Like rotten, cold o-sechi ryori would be so much better. Yum.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"1. Christmas dinner issues

Japan tends to eat smaller portions than the West to begin with, and that difference gets multiplied when it comes to celebrations. “I don’t like meat very much,” begins one woman, “but my American husband, his British mom, and his American dad all love it. But I can’t tell them ‘I don’t want any turkey,’ so I force myself to eat it.”

"Wrapping gifts is a hassle... Getting stuck with presents you don't like..."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, lol, this is some funny stuff! Like Cleo, I would love to have these problems.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well makes sense, but it's only one day every year

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I thought I was a Grinch. Wow now I realize I have tons of Xmas spirit compared to these true Grinches. My Japanese wife LOVES Christmas.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Like rotten, cold o-sechi ryori would be so much better. Yum.

You probably just gave them another idea for an interview & article!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cute But most of the complaints are self caused. There are not many Americans who would tell a woman she must eat copious amounts of Turkey she doesn't even like. If it's the my family the men will be more than happy with consuming even more. Same with introducing new Japanese foods to the meal. My cousins Chinese wife does it, my British wife does, my Japanese friends Do.My daughter eats about 1 ounce of food, No one makes her eat more.

Gift giving extended family, don't Do it. Unless it's like 3 or 4 kids. There is simply no reason to shell out 1000 dollars for dozens of cheap 10 dollar gifts and a couple large ones. If you Do it, gift cards. Most maKlaus have a gift wrapping place and many stores Do it too. And I don't get unwanted gifts. I tell people No gift. Or if compelled then a gift card.

And once kids get beyond the cheap toys r US toy or cheap kids clothes, No more gifts. Let mom's and dad's worry about it, grandparents too.

Nothing you can Do about mother's in law.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

where the traditional Christmas dinner is the even heavier fried chicken

Actually, families who eat KFC are the minority. KFC sells about 5 billion yen of chicken over 3 days, or about 40 yen per person in Japan. The KFC christmas barrel set is 4000 yen for a family of 4, which comes out to 1000 yen per person. That means only 4% of Japanese eat fried chicken. Many eat roast chicken, go out for dinner, eat other "special" food at home (such as chirashizushi), or don't celebrate it at all.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Basically the things they get annoyed about are common annoyances among people in America and Europe as well....

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Sounds like Japanese women have nothing better to complain about thantheir husbands and their husbands culture. Hey ladies, you are in a bicultural relationship so you`ll need to open your minds up a bit.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Tiptoeing around cultural nuances can be a pain but some of these complains are so simple to navigate I was surprised to see them on the list. #1 is the perfect example. If you are hosting, make something else for yourself. Nobody will castigate you for not eating turkey. If you are a guest, you still don't have to eat an enormous amount just to be respectful. My Japanese family sure doesn't mind when I skip half of the osechi items.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I sympathise with all complaints about Xmas, though I am not sure that a weirdly kitsch dinner plus trip to love hotel or a bucket of greasy chicken here is much of a substitute for anything over there. My wife and I are working on Christmas Eve and Day in different cities, and so, thankfully, will not be able to take Xmas phone calls from my over-fed, over-drunk, over-presented, sunburnt siblings in Australia.

They and their kids are getting heaps of stuff from Daiso and Uniqlo summer sales bought months ago, but stupid me left it till November to send, too late by ship so by air - cost more than the 4-5 presents from Daiso etc. each for 17 people just to send. The problem then is that they love all the variety and quality Daiso stuff so much praising its high quality compared to the $2 store junk available in Australia. My wife says that it just encourages them.

I reckon she is right.

What do I get from them? This year I am getting a well in a village in Cambodia - it costs about $300, and I am sure that the Cambodian villagers need that more than I need expensively airfreighted unnecessary consumable junk from Oz.

And we do not need Xmas just to do things like that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

they complain about forced exchange gifts (which can be cheap) but comply with the expensive WEDDING CEREMONY money gift ranging from 500 USD and more and they will not complain about it because it's a "Japanese Culture',

Why do many Japanese wants the whole world to adjust for them? swallow your WAGAMAMA mentallity and deal with the baggage that you have to carry for entering a bicultural marriage and living abroad, now they feel how to be a GAI-JIN!

I still love the REAL CHRISTMAS than the Japanese Valentine's day Christmas.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Wow, all kickboard did was post stats and he gets down-voted.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Peacetrain: Christmas alone is no fun at all. Nevertheless, please try and enjoy the season as much as you can. Here's wishing you a brighter 2015.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Christmas in Japan is so empty, sad and disgusting. For Japanese, Christmas season is all about consumerism, sex and love hotels. The spirit of family and filial love is totally absent. Mind you, Christmas is a time for reflexion and, for many, religious values, not for dating and bedding someone, you Japanese folks!

2 ( +11 / -9 )

Reminds me a bit of all the whiny Oh My Gawd I have to sit through Kohaku Uta Gassen posts over on the 'NHK announces lineup' thread. :-)

Goose, meet gander.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Christmas is only as complicated as one makes it.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Readers, please stop using this thread to bash Japan. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As some have posted here, if you see something that you don't like to eat, don't eat it. My inlaws eat many of the traditional meals at New Year's and they understand that I don't eat all of the stuff so they respect me. They go out of their way to make sure I at least get something to eat. Same goes for me, if there are things I eat that they don't like, I try to make things for them or understand if they don't like them and I am not offended if they don't like it. I don't make them go to church with me on Christmas, and don't force my religious views on the Holiday and I respect their traditions to go to temples for their celebrations.

I saw as with some, the spouses need to at least learn about their spouses culture and accept some of the things, doesn't mean you have to change your whole out look on life but accept the differences.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I find it bizarre that posters complain about Christmas in Japan.

Before we forget, Christmas is a Christian festival. Japan is not a Christian country. Christmas is everywhere mostly about consumerism and shopping. Japan does that quite a lot. Christmas is also about silly songs that no-one listens to the rest of the year. They play these in Japan too. Christmas is about family. Sure, but they have o-shogatsu for that in Japan.
-4 ( +6 / -9 )

'For Japanese, Christmas season is all about consumerism, sex and love hotels.'

Replace love hotels with booze and I'd argue that's pretty much Christmas for many in the UK.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@ Ishikawa .... you're right, but many of us Gaijin did not grow up in Japan. It is not filled with the same sights, smells and sounds... along with extended family. Add to that that quite often Christmas is a day of work... It would be the same as you spending Shogatsu in a foreign country where you drink up on New Years but that is it. Believe me... if you were in say Florida... you'd be homesick during Shogatsu... like we just don't feel the Christmas spirit in Japan. Please think beyond your world.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

If the wives complain about the Christmas season, I can just imagine how much they whinge during the rest of the year.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Reminds me a bit of all the whiny Oh My Gawd I have to sit through Kohaku Uta Gassen posts over on the 'NHK announces lineup' thread

Exactly, cleo. Perhaps Christmas will grow on these housewives, like enka grew on me over the years.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The reason a lot of Japanese women don't like Christmas overseas is that Japanese women like to rule the roost. They are not used to entertaining others in homes, or being entertained in the homes of others. A fish out of water is not a happy fish. Many of them can't deal with the language either. They're okay one-on-one with hubby who is used to Japanese English speakers, but twelve to one at a family table in the USA, and they're mainly screwed.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

@blvtzpk

Thanks. I will!

I like Christmas anywhere actually. The way people celebrate Christmas varies from country to country and families within each country have their own traditions that are vastly different too. If you are lucky enough to be invited to someone's place for Christmas I say enjoy it and learn that everyone does things different.

These days I'm thinking that you can just decide to like something - better than just getting annoyed and then complaining later.

I LIKE the way Japanese have their own spin on Christmas. Turkey vs KFC, Santa vs Jesus vs Saint Nicholas, punch vs sake vs egg nog, Bing Crosby vs John Lennon, Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays? Who cares - it's all good! Just as long as we aren't blowing each other up.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Slightly off topic but on the subject of gift giving. As a foreigner living in Japan I really dislike the "omiyage" system. Every time I go overseas I have to remember to buy little souvenirs for just about every person I have ever met back in Japan. It's a real hassle and causes suitcase space issues. On topic - I love Christmas and I love choosing and wrapping gifts.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Wherever you are, and whichever country you call home, if you are invited to celebrate with loved ones, you should accept gratefully and enjoy what you're given. Tradition is tradition. Living history.

To say "You are celebrating your feast day incorrectly, the way we amended it to incorporate the fast food industry is far better" is the very pinnacle of bad manners.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I brought back a load of stuffing from the UK to go with my Christmas dinner. My Japanese father-in-law shoveled it back like there was no tomorrow. I was stunned by how much he enjoyed it. He didn't want turkey though, which was fine. It is quite dry meat and I'm having something else this year. Maybe a barbecue in the garden. The best thing about Christmas back home is the explosive wind created by Brussel sprouts. I don't eat them, but my three brothers do. How could anyone not enjoy such a cultural event in the UK?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Christmas in Japan is so empty, sad and disgusting. For Japanese, Christmas season is all about consumerism, sex and love hotels. The spirit of family and filial love is totally absent. Mind you, Christmas is a time for reflexion and, for many, religious values, not for dating and bedding someone, you Japanese folks!

Christmas (anywhere) is what you make of it. Like any other holiday, people get what they work for. If you want the spirit of family and filial love for Christmas, it is up to you to get it for yourself and the people you care for. Sure enough, Japan has holidays which are about values very similar to the ones we celebrate at Christmas but I have not heard any Japanese complain (so far) that we westerners party and sometimes even get noisy on the night of December 31st.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

No need to go back to the UK for stuffing - it's easy and cheap to make if you can get the sage (growing your own in a pot is easy, and handy year round)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sageandonionstuffing_1328

2 ( +2 / -0 )

'Before we forget, Christmas is a Christian festival. Japan is not a Christian country.'

Very true. Perhaps it's also worth remembering that people have been celebrating a festival around that time of year, the Winter Solstice, for millennia before the arrival of Christianity. The reason Christmas is celebrated around the same time as the Winter Solstice is not a coincidence and many of the icons associated with Christmas come from non-religious or pre-existing traditions. It's also true that Christmas is not celebrated in the same way in different majority Christian countries. The Christmas traditions are hodgepodge to begin with and I don't know who has the right or authority to tell someone they are doing it incorrectly.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Seriously? Ok lets cancel Christmas then, wouldn't that be easier for these poor wife's that have to put up with such serious offences....Marriage is give and take, I'm sure the husbands have equally as many qualms about Japanese traditions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Christmas in Japan is very depressing if you come from a country that is culturally Christian.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What did they expected? To eat soaked-in-oil fried chicken and a miniature sponge cake with cool whip and strawberries? To be gifted those gift boxes filled with washing liquid? No no no, these must be those annoying wives who would probably be whining about anything.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nice to see people enjoying themselves, however they choose to celebrate, but personally I wish I could hibernate from 23 December to 3 January when everything's back to normal. I like normal....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cleo, my thanks. I have never made stuffing, I have always carried back a few Paxo packs in a suitcase. I will try that recipe though, or just translate it for my mother-in-law. It's weird sometimes the things the Japanese like. I was quite surprised he even tried it, but the fact that he actually really liked it was amazing.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Hampton, if you're looking for poultry which isn't as dry as turkey (I agree, a most overrated meat), the Meat Guy can get you a whole duck for 5000 yen. I have one every year, and they're just phenomenal.

http://www.themeatguy.jp/app/en/products/view/286#content-top

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I just like the songs, decorations, and food. Presents are unnecessary. As you get older you realize the waste of spending and that it's better to try to enjoy each other's company. I'm sure from all the wives' experiences above the families are pretty pushy and gluttonous, but don't worry about the pressure - just enjoy the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lucky for me my husband and his family love American version of christmas and thanksgiving. We tone it down a bit on food portions of course but they enjoy getting involved in my culture. Super thankful for that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Ah that time of the year... gripes, fights and fights all warped in eggnog, x'mas carols and lights....

FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Because Japanese people have an allergic reaction to wastefulness, no matter how many years I spend overseas, using wrapping paper still doesn’t sit right with me.”

Author obviously doesn't know Japan at all! Japan is THE wrapping country! Every item gets wrapped elaborately, two or three times. Japanese have a long history with wrapping things. Talking about wastefulness... whenever I come back from the supermarket and start to unpack things, my garbage can quickly fills up with all the extra wrapping around goods.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

CGB Spender: The author is quoting a woman, so it's SHE who obviously knows nothing, and I touch on that in my comments to the mods.

'One woman said, “Because Japanese people have an allergic reaction to wastefulness, no matter how many years I spend overseas, using wrapping paper still doesn’t sit right with me.”'

Yeah, tell that to the place I used to get coffee at, take out. They put it in a tray and then in a paper bag before putting that in a plastic bag with handles. It's only recently places have gotten tumblers or lids you can pop open and drink while standing/walking or as is. Or what about the cookies wrapped up individually and then wrapped in another container, put in a package, then in a box, and then with a special wrapping if Oseibo or some other celebratory holiday and then put in another bag? Japan is FAR from being allergic to waste -- heck, just look at how they water is left running constantly while doing dishes (and then putting them in the dishwasher after!). Just a point of order that, again, most of what these women say can be applied to any other nation and every other holiday or personal celebration, and that it's just personal disagreement or dissatisfaction with the way some things are done that they are not used to.

And ALL of these are very first world problems, as a poster pointed out in regards to my original post. If we are complaining about having too much or having to do something so 'horrid' as "wrapping so many presents", I think we need to give our heads a serious shake and go to some volunteer work for the truly unfortunate. Once in a while I catch myself complaining about how I'm being invited to too many people's homes or get too many souvenirs or something but immediately admonish myself for being so spoiled at having so much and having it so good when others do not.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Anybody rude enough to respond to being invited to a culturally-significant feast with a loved one's family at the happiest time of the year with moans, whinges and expectations of a round of applause for surviving such an ordeal does not deserve a second invitation. I don't care where you come from, that's just downright bad manners.

I hope these ungrateful women spend next Christmas alone, like they deserve to be. Disgraceful form.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

International marriage is all about adapting to each other and mixing your traditions.

What you signed up for aye. Thats all these Japanese WAGS ranting On need to remember.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thank you so much for the insightful article. A Japanese female friend who is in an international marriage with an American told me about her Christmases, and her complaint made the above reasons seem small by comparison. Apparently, her husband insists that they spend every Christmas with his family in Chicago. No matter where they are living at the time, they fly to bitterly cold Chicago for Christmas. Understandable, most Americans would like to spend Christmas with their families, if they can. So I asked her about New Year's, did they fly back to Japan to spend Oshogatsu with her family? No, they did not. I was shocked. It's at least as important for Japanese people to spend New Year's with their family as it is for Americans to spend Christmas with theirs, if not more so. She's been married over 5 years, and not once have they spent Oshogatsu with her family. My opinion of her husband was greatly diminished after I heard that.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Mori Neko, well, that's plain wrong but I don't think such selfishness is cultural. I certainly hope it isn't. I have spent my last 4 Christmases and New Years in Japan as my wife wants to be near her family for New Year and I am happy to go home in the summer instead when the evenings are longer and the weather is better. Your friend's hubby needs to learn about give and take. Anyway, I will be in the office until at least December 22nd, so if I returned to London on December 23rd, I would have to leave again on 29th to spend New Year back in Japan. London and Chicago are very long trips for only 6 days, so when I go back I want longer, at least ten days for catching up. That maybe what is happening in your friend's case, but it's not fair on the Japanese spouse. A reasonable person in an international marriage would arrange things fairly and have one year in their home country and the other year in their spouse's country.

I enjoy Christmas in Japan. The weather's usually better than in the UK. Japan is quite international and most products are readily available. I can order home comforts that I can't easily find here online and get them delivered in less than a week. No one stops me having a family Christmas if I want one. I prefer strawberry cake to fruit cake and I do not have to eat KFC if I don't want to. Plus the shops are all open and I can think about my colleagues all working while I'm stuffing myself and having a great day with my wife, kids and in-laws. If my Japanese wife doesn't want turkey or lamb, I can easily buy her some sushi. Traditions and cultures are supposed to be enjoyable after all.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What I find odd is when families in Japan do traditions they don't like or enjoy. I do understand some things as there is overwhelming pressure or some kind of family thing.. but the more optional stuff these days, like Osetchi.

I've a friend who absolutely hates it (as do his family), yet they buy 3 days worth every year.

Perhaps some of these Christmas things are along those lines? They are done for the sake of tradition.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But I can’t tell them ‘I don’t want any turkey,’ so I force myself to eat it.”

This kind of thinking seems to stem from one of Japanese society's unwritten rules: that you must eat whatever is put in front of you, and that adults are not permitted to have any likes or dislikes regarding food.

This wife should remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing a dislike for a certain food. There are plenty of vegetarians who refuse to eat any kind of meat. The requirement to finish everything on your plate whether you like it or not is something that ends when adulthood begins.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The woman who forces herself to eat turkey just needs to learn how to say "My oh my, that was so delicious! I'm so stuffed I don't think I could eat another bite!"

I can't seem to remember any traditional dishes in the US that use cheese but anyway, the woman who finds it so exhausting to cook with all that cream, cheese, and sauce needs to learn how to finagle her husband (and kids if any) into cooking the Christmas dinner he/they want to eat.

Choosing gifts a hassle? As many mentioned, that's what gift cards are for! Nowadays you don't even need to leave the house to go buy them, get Amazon, iTunes, LLBean or whatever from the comfort of your home computer.

Would not be surprised if the rudeness of the wife who sent out lists of the desired gifts is one of the reasons she is an ex-wife. About the receipts, when I spent my first Christmas in 30+ years in the US I was quite non-plussed at the attitude of a certain segment of the family who seemed to intend to return everything they got, even going through a rigamarole of getting receipts after the fact and driving a few towns away to do so at the store of purchase. If it was me, I would just donate things that don't fit or whatever to charity.

I hope Madame Riri gives the women she interviewed some of the feedback herd and elsewhere to um, help them adjust.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Thon

I think that was a bit in the past. Nobody ever forced my kids to eat anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I understand there are so many emotional reactions since, for people from Christian countries, it's generally supposed to be time with their families and friends but it's just yet another cultural gap issue. Personally, I found it interesting, while "Christmas" in Japan feels pretty commercially driven, when it comes to Halloween, Japanese found their way of enjoying.

That said, there must be ways to soften the cultural clash and, while the old proverb of "when in Rome..." would work as a general rule, in this age of internationalization, I agree that, at times, we have to tell what we really think especially in close/long-term relationships. So, why not let us be just good Samaritans each other, which is, I think, more important than the details.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'm not Christian but what annoys the most about Christmas anywhere in the world is the fact that almost everybody neglects the one whose birthday is supposed to be celebrated on December 25th.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sorry if this is off topic

@Kato_Koshiro...

'm not Christian but what annoys the most about Christmas anywhere in the world is the fact that almost everybody neglects the one whose birthday is supposed to be celebrated on December 25th.

My birthday is January 1st and all people have ever done around me is celebrate New Year. As a kid I used to get upset... don't care now though... but yes, I get your point.

As for the tone of the article... just seems off for me. Why would a Japanese (?) writer be so critical of Japanese women who for whatever reason find Christmas a headache and stressful?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"But I can’t tell them ‘I don’t want any turkey,’ so I force myself to eat it.” Open your mouth and say no thank you. Yes, you are forcing yourself, nobody else is.

I disagree with the "just say No to turkey" line that many have suggested. It is socially very difficult to refuse the centrepiece of the the main family/religious festival of the year. In this case, refusal can offend. Say, "just a little please" and eat a bit if you do not fancy too much, but do not make some stand on the issue, unless you are an actual vegetarian.

She obviously does not find it revloting, so taking the path of least resistance is probably the best bet best.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Don't sweat Christmas!!

Just drink a lot and it all blurs into a pleasant haze..

It's always worked for me...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Who the heck created this?

Japan tends to eat smaller portions than the West to begin with

Farce, my wife eats twice as much as me and she is one quarter my size! I have to hit the gym 4 days a week to stay fit while all she does is smile and look great.

Wen we lived in the states my family would marvel at the amount of food she would eat without gaining an ounce.

The folks that took this poll were the same shrooms that predicted that Abe would lose seats in the up coming election.

I couldn't sit and read anymore of the stereotypical crap that was created for this topic, so please try harder!

4. Wrapping gifts is a hassle

Really? Name me an American person that enjoys wrapping presents..........That's why most of us pay someone else to do it.

Come on Casey try harder.........

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The last thing anyone needs at Christmas are miserable, moaning, picky people. It's a holiday. My mum insists on turkey and we eat it and thank her because she's taken the time to cook it. It's not the best meat but it's hardly inedible. Have a few drinks and see if the dog will tolerate wearing a paper hat, watch a classic movie, have a few more drinks, have some nuts/chocolate, grow up, stop bleating and most of all, enjoy the day off.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

National Lampoon's!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese women don't like those aspects of the holiday season? Join the club! You're not special.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My spouse is far more into Xmas than I am. Although she won't eat turkey, she seems to love the opportunity to make it for our family. And she'll be the one who "influences" me to get a tree. And so we make compromises.

Learned the truth about Xmas many years ago -- and believe it would be better if it were celebrated as originally intended by the pagans who came up with it: as a feast of the winter solstice to be met with lots of drink and debauchery.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Kato_Koshiro

The current Xmas was once the Mid-winter festival until the church steamrollered it and made it their festival. It is not 'Christ's' birthday.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Instead of complaining, why don't they donate unwanted gifts, time & money to charity?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Anout wrapping the presents.... Japanese don't like wastefulness? Hahahahahaha. Yeah right. If you live in Japan you know what I'm talking about.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

After 10 years of marriage, my wife and I do a trade off. One year we visit the States for a month in December and the following in Japan for New Years. My wife loves Turkey and especially stuffing (our holiday table has about 7 varieties of stuffing), cranberry sauce and all the fixings, sweet potato pie, the atmosphere spiritual symbols and all the sights sounds and smell that go along with it. I have heard of some women that are interracially married and had complained to me about how they hate Western style Christmas food and some of the other things that go with it. The only thing I can always say to these women is "too bad." Thanksgiving and Christmas in the States are the ONLY two holidays where I don't want to discuss anything that could make friction or create an argument, whatever my beliefs are socially or politically in life. I refrain from getting into anything negative that can break the holiday spirit. I don't think it's too much to have a few days with family and have a quiet peaceful time. I just feel so blessed that I have a wife that is so easy to please and loves eating and has a adventurous palate as do I when I celebrate Japanese New Years. If you can't be happy celebrating American or other Western style Christmas, I just don't know what else to tell women like that. Again, too, too bad.

@JoeBigs and JWithers

I agree with you on almost every point. My wife goes nuts when we get back to the States and eats to the point where I can't distinguish her from the Turkey.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is the reactions of a village woman- not wasteful and excessive like most Japanese.

My wife (a city girl) only dislikes Christmas because Father Christmas gave her nothing when she was 7.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ah, yes! The need to complain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No, they did not. I was shocked. It's at least as important for Japanese people to spend New Year's with their family as it is for Americans to spend Christmas with theirs, if not more so. She's been married over 5 years, and not once have they spent Oshogatsu with her family. My opinion of her husband was greatly diminished after I heard that.

Well, here's to basing opinions on one side of a story. There is no "more so" either, in reality it's only as important as the individual (s) choose to make it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why are everyone getting upset here? For me Xmas is everyday why should I have to wait to give some one a gift. Its the biggest lie told to kids don't get me wrong I enjoy the myth behind it but I'm not going to go broke or let some commercialized freaking holiday still my joy. I remember one year in Japan I loved it I walked into my hotel lobby and there was this 50 ft Gorgeous Xmas tree in the middle of the lobby this was Dec 22 and many families paused to take pictures and seemed to be in the spirit this continued until one morning I walked down to the lobby to go have breakfast at a nice restaurant this was Dec 26 I was surprised there was no a trace of that 50ft Xmas Tree it was gone! This kind of sapped my holiday spirit because most americans don't take down the tree until after New Years. I walked out of the lobby thinking oh well as most Japanese probably were thinking that it was just another day because most people were already back at work. In other words don't let what ever the spirit may be ruin your day you just adapt and live in that spirit of the moment!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

For those complaining about Christmas in Japan. Um, Christmas isn't a traditional Japanese holiday, so if you're there, you should be glad they acknowledge it at all. I admit I enjoyed my KFC and hotel while I was there, but I enjoyed much more the festivities that surrounded Japanese New Year traditions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This article gets opinions from individual women not a survey of a thousand of Japanese women. It is like me saying I hate eating bland osechi ryori and calling it the opinion of American men living in Japan. This article is not worth your getting your panties in a bunch over.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I love New Year here, all the family off work and able to gather together and have time for each other, lots of good food, empty streets, even Tokyo has semi-breathable air for once because all the car drivers have gone back to their inaka or are chilling out at home, New Year sales with lots of bargains. What's not to like?

I don't need anyone to 'make allowances for the fact that I'm not Japanese'. Gimme a glass of Bowmore (or I can get it myself) and Oshogatsu turns into Hogmanay.

Christmas is sad, though. You just have to ignore the bad bits and insist on doing your own thing. The MiL has long since stopped tut-tutting at the Christmas decorations still being up at New Year, and has come to enjoy the home-made mince pies and stollen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Somehow being miserable outside your home country at Christmas/new year is so much worse than any other part of the year. Perhaps if these women were happier in their new surroundings and marriages, they wouldnt be so upset at Christmas. Im glad you love where you are Cleo, good for you. For others it is something akin to a prison sentance.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't think it's so much where you are as who you're with.

And whether you're confident/outspoken/bloody-minded enough to get your own wants and needs acknowledged and accepted, or at least tolerated. :-)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Somehow being miserable outside your home country at Christmas/new year is so much worse than any other part of the year. Perhaps if these women were happier in their new surroundings and marriages, they wouldnt be so upset at Christmas.

These women may not be particularly unhappy at all. They may be perfectly happy women who were asked "what do you dislike about Christmas?" I love Japan but if you asked me what I dislike about New Years, I could come up with a few answers. And I like New Years more than I dislike it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

A fair list of grievances about Christmas really. These ARE some of the hassles of Christmas we all know.

I just love how people around here jump on the Japanese as soon as they have the temerity to point things like this out over a beloved cultural festival like Christmas.

Human, all too human.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well Xmas can be hard for Japanese women in Western countries. Often they will be meeting a lot of people they have never met before and may not feel so comfortable or feel a little self conscious and if their English or which ever language is not so good then communication will be very difficult. Also some family members may not approve of a foreign and or Japanese wife. Add to that the pressure of buying lots of presents and trying to please a lot of people many of whom they have never met and then watching them open their presents and show their distaste and or displeasure. It happens. As for the xmas dinner, it is not so much the portion that is the issue. Japanese women have a voracious appetite if they like whats in front of them. It is more to do with the type and style of food and lack of variety. Anyway thats my observation or they were my observations. Xmas here is just lots of very pretty lights and great sales. I sort of like it actually.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Steve

Well, Steve, it appears that you don't know what Xmas is. Furthermore, we aren't a bunch of strangers sitting at the table. 90% of Xmas presents are opened at home before even leaving the house to visit another family.

As for the lack of variety, it sounds like you haven't spent a day in your life in the U.S. America is FULL of variety. It is here in Japan that there is a lack of variety.

Your late night choices are Gyudon, tonkatsu, or variety. It's ALL Japanese. Because of America's diversity (in families that are not racist) we can have just about anything and everything on the table.

Personally I love the enchiladas sitting right next to the honey glazed ham which just happens to be sitting next to the kimchi nabe that we made.

Yes, my family looks like a U.N meeting and there's nothing wrong with that.

If you haven't figured it out yet all those lights on the Xmas tree represents SOULS. We share the tree of life! Together we are beautiful!

If a Japanese wife has something to complain about then she needs a lesson or explanation about Xmas culture.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Christmas is not a native Japanese holiday, so it makes sense that the Japanese don't celebrate it like Western countries do (i.e. KFC, buying presents occasionally, and, of course, work). If they want to do it that way, that's fine. However, just because the Japanese pick and choose what they want Christmas to be doesn't change what Christmas really is about: family, love and compassion for others, and religious values (for those who hold them).

I always hated putting up Christmas decorations around my home because it's simply a pain (I didn't have to this year because I'm in Japan now), but I did it because it was important to my mother. I suppose I skipped some temporary emotional and physical agony this year, but now that I'm not with my family and in an environment where Christmas is celebrated differently, I'm reflecting even deeper about the importance of the holidays. I hope, as a foreigner and a teacher, that I can help native Japanese understand that those values are why we eat foods that we don't want to eat, choose presents and wrap them, and decorate our households and businesses.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I love Christmas! I have no family in Japan but I roast a stuffed turkey with all the trimmings, every year. The ex's family always looked forward to my Christmas dinners, except for the jealous sister-in-law who proclaimed, 'we don't need you to bring over turkey, we're Japanese, we eat sushi' . She said all this while sinking her teeth into a turkey drumstick, so I proceeded to remove it from her mouth and threw it into the bin. Relatives get sent Christmaa cards, I exchange presents with a couple of very close friends and I usually buy myself a gift that I really want. I like decorating my tree and home and I enjoy going out to meet friends for drinks to celebrate. I never work at Christmas, sometimes people should take time off just to enjoy some R & R, but, whichever way people choose to celebrate, it doesn't have to be a chore! Merry Christmas!!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I feel sorry for the husbands, seems like thrse women are spoilt. The one where she says japanese ate allergic to wastefulness is a classic! Japan is known as being the moste wasteful nation on earth with its ocerwrapping in double and triple layers of paper and or plastic for even the most common small item.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This scene amazes me.

"except for the jealous sister-in-law who proclaimed, 'we don't need you to bring over turkey, we're Japanese, we eat sushi' . " She said all this while sinking her teeth into a turkey drumstick, so I proceeded to remove it from her mouth and threw it into the bin."

I'd pay money to watch a movie with that scene in it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A lot of people in these comments have an overly romanticized view of Christmas and bashing Japan's supposed over-commercialization of Christmas. Do any of you actually remember what it's like to be in America during the time of year from November 1st to December 31st? Japan has a long way to go before they can come close to topping America's crass commercialization of the holiday season.

Ever been to a Black Friday sale and seen the absolute worst that humanity has to offer?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Althouh Japan isn't a Christian country, they do also enjoy Christmas..so it shouldn't be that complicated for Japanese women marrying with people from other countries..maybe the only thing they need is tolerance and understanding and openness, as the way to celebrate Xmas may not be the same in all instance. If u mention a bit of your culture on how to celebrate Xmas, for sure your international family will want to hear and perhaps integrate that as well in the celebration. Xmas is not for making things complicated or closing yourself out, it is a reminder of the love of a simple person with a simple and humble messages -- one of them is love your neighbour as you love yourself, or reach out for those who are in need. Maybe if they learn more about Christ and the messages he brought, they may know more about the meaning of humbleness, understanding, life and happiness, as Christ himself was not born rich but was wrapped in a manger. Just saying.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People are getting bent out of shape over nothing. These women were ASKED what they didn't like about Christmas overseas. Are all the people bashing these women saying that if they were asked what they didn't like about Christmas in Japan that they would have absolutely NOTHING to complain about? I think not. Every last one of you who bashes these women would run off a whole litany of things you hate about Christmas in Japan, but would other people be justified in telling you "STFU or GTFO"?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

None of the things you will experience during the holidays in America are absent here in Japan.

More like just about everything is absent in Japan.

I'm sure my wife would agree with most of the reasons here, but hey if I put up with living in Japan all year, surely she can deal with a week or 2 of Christmas.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't understand why everybody thinks that everyone else should conform to their cultural norms in a foreign country. YOU are the foreigner, YOU should conform, otherwise YOU should go back to YOUR country where everything is the way YOU want it.

I couldn't have said it better!

However, this article must be amended: Japanese wives married to Americans or British husbands share what they hate about Christmas overseas.

It is true that Xmas came from a pagan holiday and adapted to Christian values. However, the tradition of eating a big dinner with the family and extended family is more common in the U.S.

In Latin American Countries, there is usually a dinner with only your close family and wait until it is 25th to open the presents, since you don't have to work on the 25th, people usually stay up late, in their own homes. Teenagers go to parties, but it is more rare to go visit other family (we do that on New year's eve)

Dinner it is also optional, you can prepare what you want, or order it at places to prepare dinners for you, my mom usually doesn't make a dinner, but just hot cocoa and sweets (cake is optional).

LatinAmerican countries have more Roman Catholic Christianity, so it is more common that many people also go to a "Dawn mass" at the Church, which usually starts at 00:30 hours on the 25th.

Although I agree that gift wrapping is a hassle, Many of the stores where you buy presents would gift-wrap them for you, in my case I have to do it myself because I ordered most of the gifts online to stores like Amazon or similar, and even though I had the chance to order them already gif-wrapped, I didn't ask for that option since customs process can mess all that up. There are lots of choices, you can buy envelopes with xmas motifs, so after all, those who complain are just lazy.

As for gifts for extended relatives, just make it all about kids, you don't have to worry for your 30yro sister in law, or your 65yro father in law, if your husband wants to give his parents relatives, he has to do it, not you, he knows best what they want /need, you can only accompany him in selecting a present.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, there are 2 things I have to point out about this article.

Not sure which era this writer is living in but we don't normally exchange 'Ochugen' or 'Oseibo' gifts between relatives anymore. They are usually done for business purposes only and have nothing to do with family interrelations like Christmas.

"Combine some fairly uniform clothing tastes"

I've been to the US and they are way more uniform with just a T-Shirt and shorts/jeans. For a brief second, I thought they all belonged to the same sports club. You'll see what fashion really means if you go to France.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Considering that most Christmas things on Japan are a poor copy of western Christmas things, I'd say that the Japanese wices should be grateful that they had a "correct" Christmas.

Having a kids' birthday cake covered in cream, KFC and only giving kids few presents after walking through crowds of shrieking j-girls sheeping around some over-glorified lights in Tokyo is hardly a good example of a better Christmas, is it?

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Two things: 1- good to know women all over the world are the same. they whine and nag and complain even if the times are good. 2- Japantoday either does not believe Christmas is celebrated in Canada, Australia and New Zealand or there are not any Japanese women who have married men from these countries.

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@Anna Louis,

Good job. I mean it too.

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In the west, Christmas comes with traditions. Christmas dinner can have ham, turkey, roast, string beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, apple pie, mince pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, pecan pie, ice cream, cake, fruitcake, hot rum, champagne, hot chocolate, etc. It came be a combination or even have fish, crab or oysters, it depends on what part of the US you are and the ethnic background. When I was young, we had turkey with stuffing and ham, string beans, sweet potato casserole, cake, wine, soda, eggnog, You don't have to eat it all. I didn't like ham so I never ate any when I was a kid. White meat turkey and stuffing with gravy was my favorite and cranberry sauce, not so much. The holiday is about family, similar to Thanksgiving. Christmas is also about a White Christmas....snow. But then I lived in NY so the kids always wanted snow especially if it closed the school. Today many people just get catering so they don't have to make it. The holiday is more and more commercial. It more about Santa then Christ.

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Hold on so, you don't want to be bothered with having to pick out presents for a bunch of family members, but at the same time you think it's pushy that relatives send Christmas lists with ideas for their kids'?

I'm not sure, my family could be weird or this could be a taboo in other countries, but in my family the young children generally make a lists of ideas of toys they'd like for Christmas. Some might come from Santa, some might come from other family members.

When it comes to young kids, you're all saying you actually want to go out and try to pick out whatever video game or toy you THINK they might like? And expect them to be happy?

Now adults doing this, or older children, is a different story. I suppose I could also just not realize my family was weird.

I also imagine customs vary from family to family as to how far into the extended family the presents are going to go.

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In my view, if someone doesn't get much out of Christmas, then my reply is, "what do you put into it?"

I could understand the frustration that some Japanese wives may feel when their experiences revolve solely around the commercial dimension of the holiday. But if they were exposed to the rich traditions of the Christmas season within the context of their religious heritage, they might enjoy it and look forward to it. Christmas first and foremost celebrates the birth of Jesus the Christ. Even if she does not believe, I bet that she would appreciate reading the gospels of Jesus' birth at a minimum to learn the narrative.

If Christmas was framed simply as "annual gift-giving day", my wife would surely not look forward to it. Nor would I.

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I only see the description of materialist & consumerist behaviour

I somewhat agree although I also read an article about a Western couple who started to stop buying gifts for their children as their kids don't show appreciation, as well as about Americans complaining about the gifts given by their bosses or colleagues. I can see materialism and consumerism with no religious aspect or "generosity" are spreading in Western countries over this event too. I was astonished to see an article that says Americans were planing to spend as much as $720 on average just for the Christmas gifts this year. I wonder why they have to spend that much money for something originally derives from a folk story that a father saved a girl from selling herself out by putting a gold into her stocking? I have no idea if the recent cease of giving out massive gifts is anything to do with the "generosity" you mentioned.

When in Rome. You moved there so adapt or get out.

Interesting. I often hear the exact same thing from Japanese ultra-right-wingers which is directed toward foreigners in Japan.

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