As only a tiny fraction of the Japanese population is Christian, everyone works on Christmas Day. For this reason, families celebrate the holiday on Christmas Eve. The Kato family did the same.
Mune and Asako joined Otoosan, Okaasan, Tomo and I for an amazing dinner, long night of talking, Christmas music, and presents. The food, as always, was delicious! We prepared it first (I made broccoli with olive oil and garlic!) and then headed to Mass at a nearby Church. It was a small, intimate service with lots of Christmas carols (as most were in Japanese, I was very thankful to have been provided with a hiragana lyric guide). Afterwards we went back home, ate dinner, and opened presents.
My search for the Kato's presents was a long and hard one. I wanted to make sure each one had meaning and substance, as they have been so so so kind to me over the past 4 or 5 months (which is it?). Eventually, I found what I thought were good gifts for everyone:
Tomo- a guide book to Brazil (he keeps talking about going there next year, and as Okaasan seemed a bit worried over this, I thought it'd be a good idea), a love charm from Hiroshima (which ended up working, as he had a date the next day!), and a few sticks of insense (loves the stuff).
Mune and Asako- figured a joint gift would be a good idea, as they're about to get married. Found a nice photoframe, thinking they could put their wedding picture in it...they promised! : )
Okaasan- I found a plant/bonsai/thing...it's really hard to explain, but I think she liked it! I'll try to take a picture so you understand.
Otoosan- a bottle of wine I like- Casillero del Diablo's 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon- and a book I read in high school religion, "A Man's Search for Meaning." He and I are always discussing that sorta stuff.
The Kato's, being the extremely giving people they are, were so generous towards me. Mune and Asako gave me two wonderful pieces of Japanese craft...not sure what else to call them. One is a New Year's piece to go on the wall...the other is a miniature kite-like thing with the kanji for dragon! Okaasan and Otoosan gave me really nice gloves...Okaasan was scared I'd be cold in Beijing- and boy was she right! Tomo gave me a really cool wallet/business card holder thing, saying "You get alot of those in Japan...and you'll get more if you ever become a salaryman (businessman in Japan)."
After gifts (which, by the way, were given out during happy singing and dancing to Christmas music) we indulged in Christmas Cake...something that exists no where but Japan I think. The whole country rushes out to buy strawberry and vanilla cake... really tasty, but is it truly a Christmas tradition? In Japan!
The famous Japanese Christmas Cake
Tomo, proud of the underwear (and nice pants) he received from his brother Mune.
Asako and Mune brandishing their haul ; )
Okaasan and Otoosan- everyone's happy!
Someone show Julia this so she knows her bear was omnipresent!
Thanks again Jules!
My host family...I've been so lucky.
Three siblings...which one do you think is the homestay kid?