CHRISTMAS IN JAPAN
Though not a Christian country, Christmas is still celebrated by areas that are predominantly
Christian. Most holiday traditions are western in nature but there are some Japanese touches added.
The nativity play is one such popular tradition but the children will often be dressed in native
costume rather than the traditional costumes. Santa Claus resembles a traditional a kindly old man
caring a pack (Hotaisosho). In Japanese culture this figure is considered one of the gods or priests.
It is said he has eyes in the back of his head so children are very careful to behave when it is rumored he is about.
The Japanese decorate a bamboo tree on July 7th. This celebration is called Tanabata or quite literally July 7.
These trees are decorated with the same type of ornaments that are found on the museum tree. On New Year's Eve
the houses are cleaned from top to bottom and are decorated for New Year's Day. When the house is cleaned
the people dress in their finest clothes, the father marches through the house followed by the members of
the family and he drives out any evil sprits that may be residing in the house. He throws dried beans
into the corners of the house bidding the evil sprits to withdraw and good luck to enter.
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