Christmas in Japan: an epilogue, of sorts
So Christmas 2016 is over!
It was over on the 25th, as far as Japan was concerned. But not for me.
While other people dismantled their trees and carefully re-boxed baubles, I was determined to enjoy Christmas Day. That meant pulling out all the stops.
Disclaimer: most of those stops were posted over by my parents. How they knew I needed a sparkly reindeer antler headband to wear all day, I'll never guess.
I needed some help getting festive, to be fair. This has been my first Christmas away from home. And the first time I realised how much 'Christmas' as 'a thing' is shaped by my family.
I'm not religious at all - I just like presents and food. Pretty much all of us do. That said, without the little things it would've been a dull Christmas indeed. Like these selfie props:
After getting up late, downing a Bailey's coffee, dressing up, posing with bits of cardboard, and finding a Christmas party mix album, it was time to eat.
I didn't reserve a KFC party bucket, but I got my fried chicken in the end.
When I bravely trooped out in the... bright, warm sunshine... to claim my chicken, I forgot I was still wearing the antlers. The shop assistant (still dressed as Santa) duly proclaimed me 'kawaii'. I blushed a little. And then asked for an extra drumstick, just to be nice.
The chicken was surprisingly lemony and peppery. I doubt KFC would've had that nuance. Say what you like about 7-11's endless cake selection, the chicken dinner was a winner.
So was dessert.
One lucky find at the import store was a box of mini mince pies. I was so happy, I clutched them to my chest rather than put them in the shopping basket.
But I couldn't find custard, or custard powder, anywhere. That baffled me at the supermarket. A whole aisle for yoghurt... and zero custard. The evaporated milk didn't get a second glance.
Back at the house, I mentioned this tale of woe to the other Brit staying for Christmas.
"Oh, I've got custard powder. Someone sent me it."
Of all the things... and so, between us, a proper jolly British Christmas dessert was saved. More or less. As you can see, some sneaky bugger had made the mince pies with smiles on top. That detail made it a bit trickier to drown them in custard and cut their faces in half.
I went out on Boxing Day - which doesn't exist here - to walk both courses off a bit. The previously Christmassy shop windows were full of cherry blossoms. There's a metaphor in there somewhere, I'm sure.