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“Santa Kurō”: A Japanese Christmas Staff

In 1900 Shindō Nobuyoshi published Santa Kurō, one of the first Japanese books to feature Santa Claus. Its simple story and strong Christian theme sharply contrast with Japan’s largely secular observance of Christmas today, offering a fascinating glimpse into early views of the holiday along with rural life during the Meiji era (1868–1912). Santa Claus makes an appearance on the book’s inside …

Japan’s Christmas Lights for 2016 (Photo Gallery)

In the chill of winter, a Japanese romantic ideal is walking with a loved one through a spectacular light display. From simple beginnings a century ago, Japan’s biggest displays are now very large indeed.

Christmas in Japan

Christmas may be a cultural import, but it has become a major festival in Japan, where it has developed its own local characteristics.

Samurai, Dream Lover, Fast Food Mascot: Santa in JapanRichard Medhurst

Last month, “Santa Yamashita” emerged triumphant at the Santa Winter Games 2014 in Sweden to become the first Japanese winner of the competition. Held in November each year, before the world’s top Santas enter their busy season, the games have taken place since 2003. Yamashita Kōhei saw off opponents from Hong Kong, Australia, and many other North Poles in such events as speed porridge eating, rid…

Colonel Sanders Gets Ready for the Year of the HorsePaul Warham

For obvious reasons, Christmas is not a public holiday in Japan—here at we spent December 25 in the office beavering away as usual. But it’s not quite an ordinary day either. For most of the past two months, we’ve been treated (subjected?) to decorated trees and glittering lights and “White Christmas” and all the rest of it, with Colonel Sanders resplendently clad in Santa Claus red out…

Tokyo Station Lights Up the Sky Once More

The beautiful red-brick Tokyo Station building once more became a canvas for a 3D projection show in December 2012. It was so popular, though, that overcrowding caused organizers to cut short the show’s run for safety reasons. We managed to capture a video while it was on.

The Meaning of Midwinter

Atelier Muji and the Institute for Art Anthropology at Tama Art University staged a Winter Solstice Festival at the Yūrakuchō branch of Muji from December 2011 through February 2012. The event invited contemplation of the meaning of the winter from a number of conceptual angles.

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