Holidays Around the World: Japan - The Traveling Gals

Holidays Around the World: Japan

Holiday Traditions around the World: Christmas in JAPAN

Japan is predominately Shinto.   Shinto is an ethnic religion based in ritual practices to connect modern Japan with its ancient past.  It is said to have started in the sixth century, but there is no known scripture or founder so Christmas does not play much of a part in Japan.  The small amount of Christians in Japan celebrate Christmas with an ethnic twist.  For example, the nativity participants are dressed in traditional Japanese costume.  The Christmas tree is decorated with origami ornaments.  The Santa figure is an old man, Hoteiosho who carries a pack and is said to have eyes in the back of his head prompting the children to behave at all times!  Hoteiosho is considered a god or priest in Japanese culture.

Holidays Around the World: Japan - The Traveling Gals


The traditional New Year celebration of O-Shogatsu is the most important Japanese holiday of the year.  It is celebrated from January 1st – January 3rd.  Years are viewed completely separately so worries must be left behind in an old year and the new year must start fresh.  Homes are cleaned on New Year’s Eve to make way for a renewed start on January 1st.  Bonenkai parties (forget the year gatherings) are thrown throughout the country for offices, friends and families to leave their troubles behind and conclude any unfinished business.  Tokishoshi soba is known as the year crossing noodle and is served on New Year’s Eve to promote longevity. Read more


Book Review: Getting Genki in Japan by Karen Pond

Getting Genki in Japan: The Adventures & Misadventures of an American Family in Tokyo

By Karen Pond | Illustrations by Akiko Saito

Every time I visit Mitsukoshi at the Japan pavilion in EPCOT, I peruse the rather large book section.  I have read many interesting books from there and Getting Genki in Japan is no exception!

Getting Genki in Japan

A good book and a glass of wine.

GENKI = Energetic, Exciting, Full of Life

Getting Genki in Japan is a very clever and delightfully illustrated book about the adventures of an American family living in Tokyo.  Tokyo is a character in the book that is both difficult to deal with and amusingly charming at the same time.   Each chapter highlights the everyday struggle of moving to a foreign country and particularly one where the language and culture are so significantly different than America.  This family was very brave to dive right in and immerse themselves in a whole, new life.  It is both impressive and humorous reading the tales of getting through mundane situations in Japan and with children nonetheless!

I relish hearing about all the new and unfamiliar foods, words, customs and occurrences in Japan.  As a traveler, I appreciate touring but savor the little things you learn about day to day life of people living in other countries.  This book is a terrific, light-hearted read that highlights those exact aspects of life in Tokyo.

Traveling Gals Tip:  Reading fuels your passions and interests.  If you are feeling uninspired, grab a book and that should change quickly!

The sign of a good book to me is when after reading it I want to immediately hop on a plane and visit the destination.  Genki  definitely bolstered my determination to spend time in Japan.  I am ready to pack my bags and set out to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Interested in getting the book? Getting Genki in Japan *

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Or check out your local library!

Do you have a favorite travel book? Let us know in the comments!

The Traveling Gals