New Years Greetings

© illustration wanpug sozai blog

2014, the year of the horse according to the Chinese zodiac. Variations include the unicorn and the pegasus.
© illustration wanpug sozai

Now that Christmas has passed, people are gearing up for the Japanese New Year, or Oshōgatsu.  Part of bring in the new year involves sending new years greetings cards, called nengajō, to family and friends.  These postcards arrive in your mail box on New Years Day if the sender posts before the Christmas deadline.

Think of it like the tradition of sending Christmas cards, but a little more involved because your mailing list will usually include acquaintances or connections that you may hardly ever see, or consider yourself very close to at all, out of politeness.

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How Are You Spending Christmas?

Being from the U.S., when I imagine Christmas I usually think of putting up lights, picking out and/or decorating a tree together, baking treats to give the neighbors, classic holiday jingles playing in the background, and in general staying warm inside my house with good food, friends, laughter, and family.  Even not being particularly religious one way or the other, I find the spirit of the season to be refreshing and a time to reflect on the year before ringing in the new beginnings of the next.

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Getting Your Jingle On ♬

One of the nicer things about the holiday season is all the nostalgic music it brings with it.  Sadly my holiday favorites are never played in Japan, and unless your list consists solely of “Happy X-Mas (War is Over)”, “All I Want for Christmas is You”, and “Last Christmas”, there’s a good chance you’ll be out of luck as well.  I’m not kidding!  Last week I went to T.G.I.Friday’s in Shibuya and they played six different versions of “Last Christmas” during the course of the meal I shared with some friends.  Overkill is an understatement!

As unfortunate as this predicament is (first world problems-wise), it’s also given me a chance to check out some of the winter songs people here usually break out with at karaoke or tune into on radio stations/TV specials this time of year.  Here’s a list of five songs I’ve added to my winter favorites that I think you might like as well. 🙂

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Making the Big Move: Furnishing Your New Home

So you’ve settled on your new pad, moved in, and now there’s empty or mostly empty walls staring back at you.  What to do?  Thankfully, you’ve got a lot of options.  Japan is home to some of the smallest living spaces in the modern world, and every year furniture and interior design companies come out with new and creative ways to make the most of your space.

If you’ve got the budget, anything is possible.  Even if you don’t, you’re not out of luck.  Here are some ways to maximize your budget when furnishing your new home:

© Hitorigurashi Interior no Zipang.com

There’s a ton of ways to work with your space no matter the size. Here’s a stylish, one room apartment set up.
© Hitorigurashi Interior no Zipang.com

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