Hello from Smith’s School of English in Sagamihara. December and January are special months in Japan. As we wind down this year, I’ve been thinking about how these two months have changed over the years. My first experience with Christmas and New Years in Japan was in 1982. Nobody really celebrated Christmas, and New Years brought everything to a halt for a few days. Everything changes, and Japan is no different. Derek, from Smith’s School in Tsukaguchi http://smithweb.co.jp/tsukaguchi/ wrote a pretty good summary some time ago. https://sse-franchise.com/busy-december-for-my-smiths-school-of-english-students/
December in Japan
December is usually a very busy month. This year as we all know, is different, but I’ll focus on the normalcy. Company workers are busy meeting deadlines. Restaurants are packed and nightlife is bustling. Christmas lights line the streets in cities, lots of end-of-year parties happening everywhere. Traffic is heavy, especially on Sunday. On Christmas Eve, venders can be seen at train stations selling Christmas Cake, roast chicken, etc. It is a noisy and happy time of year in Japan. Santa even shows up. I like this time of year.
Japanese New Year
Years ago, the end of December and the first few days of January were silent. Everything shut down. It was, and still is a serious time of year. Families gather. Temple bells ring at midnight. Traffic is very light. The silence was a bit eerie at first, but I grew to appreciate it. The people of Japan take this time of year in earnest, going to temples and shrines to pray for the new year and spending time with family. Many wake up very early to view the first sunrise of the year at such places as Mount Fuji or somewhere along the coastline. Thousands go to the Imperial Grounds in Tokyo to get a glimpse of the Royal Family as they wish the citizens a happy new year.
Changing Times in Japan
Times have changed a bit in the past 20 years or so, but not drastically. The New Years holiday period is still quiet, families still gather, temples and shrines are still busy, but there is one small difference these days. Many of the larger retailers stay open and offer lots of bargains during the first week of January. There is plenty of nightlife in the cities. Many train lines continue running through the night. Small businesses usually close. It is still generally quiet, but not silent. I welcome the change.
So, to all the franchise owners, teachers within the Smith’s School of English system, students, friends, and family- Please have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. I know that next year will be a good year. I am looking forward to it. Merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan