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It’s Christmas! Woo! Not that you’d ever realise it here. Still, it has been fun so far. Just for a bit I’ll skip the rest of December and get right to the Christmas bits. Back on the 14th, Anita got everyone to come to Nagasaki for a Christmas party. Most of them got here in the morning, while I was still at Japanese class at Junshin, so I don’t know what they were up to then – probably picking up Christmas presents for everybody.

I remember my class being rather hilarious that day, though I forget why. They gave us a Christmas party there, too. A couple of the teachers dressed up as Santa Claus and some reindeer, and gave us all presents. Naturally there was food, a couple games, and lots of pictures.

Once we met up with everyone back at Hamanomachi and did a bit of Christmas shopping. Shun, Emi, and Taishi also met up with us. At the hyaku en shop, someone had the crazy idea of buying half a dozen sets of reindeer antlers, plus a big gold bow for Suus, and having us all wear them in the shopping arcade. So, not only were we a group of crazy gaijins, we were crazy gaijins wearing reindeer antlers in Hamanomachi (and later, the purikura arcade, the streetcar, Amyu Plaza, and Nagasaki Eki). For a while, on the bridges by Nagasaki Ekimae, we all stood around and chatted with a little group of buskers playing guitars. We asked if they knew any Christmas songs, but I guess we were out of luck. They did do a few others for us though.

Once we picked up Jose at the station and finally made our way back to Anita’s Nagasaki host parents’ house, out past the university, we had a big Christmas feast (courtesy of the Ishidas) and opened presents under the (small and fake) tree. I showed everybody Rick Mercer’s “Talking to Americans” – not surprisingly a lot of the jokes flew right over the heads of most people, but some of it was still good – and we watched a really famous movie by the same guy who made Totoro (I still haven’t seen it!). There’s a version Disney released in North American called “Spirited Away” but we watched the Japanese version – the only bit of the title I know is “Chihiro” (maybe), the girl’s name. Unfortunately we started watching it at around 1:30 in the morning, so I only half saw the first bit and completely slept through the rest. The next morning we woke up at a rather slow pace and eventually – armed with 10000en okozukai from Anita’s parents – we went to three hours of very expensive karaoke (mostly because we kept ordering food to go with it).

A week later, on Dec 21, my school had a Christmas assembly instead of classes. There wasn’t much to it other than some pretending to pray, and they brought in some people to perform some songs. A bell choir did carols, but after that it was mostly songs I didn’t recognize. The best part about going that Saturday was after I went Christmas shopping with Kura and Ryouta for the afternoon. I finally got presents for everybody! Now I just have to find a time to give them to everybody.

On the 23rd, the Yoshidas had a bit of a Christmas Party for me. They all gave me presents, which I was completely not expecting. It was a good thing I had a package my mom sent. Essentially, it was Christmas-in-a-box, filled with candy canes and a stocking for me and, thankfully, presents for everyone in my family. That was a fun party, too.

Last night, Rotary had a thing at that fancy restaurant in Chinatown – Kyoukakai. It wasn’t exactly a Christmas party, or a new years party, but there was a whole lot of drinking and gift giving. They had a big pile of stuff at the front that everybody had contributed to, and drew numbers to see who would get what. I got a furoshiki (maybe). After, there was a bunch left, so Kumazawa-san separated everything (including a funny little bike) into five piles and we had a big janken (rock-paper-scissors) tournament to see who’d get the stuff. I lost the round at our table, but the guy who did win sent me up in his place (I love being the special exchange student). From there, I won every round with gold old scissors, and walked away with the bike! Awesome Christmas present, eh? I did a couple victory laps around the tatami room, and later even down one of the streets of Chinatown (there weren’t many people around at this point).

But that pretty much ends my Christmas adventures for this year. I have nothing much planned for today, except going to Yuuing to return some CDs and rent some new ones. I’m going to Sasebo on Boxing Day, but I don’t think that’ll count much as a Christmas event. I don’t even know who’s going to be there. Oh! And I’m going to call home tomorrow morning, when it’s Christmas night back home, but that’s about it for this year!

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