Christmas was initially introduced to Japan with the arrival of the first Europeans in the 16th century. But only in recent decades has the event become widely popular in Japan, and this despite the fact that Christians make up only about two percent of the population. Though Christianity is a minority religion but Japan is a freedom of religion. Yes, we do cerebrate Christmas. People are taking up traditions such as decorating their home, giving presents to friends and celebrating the event with a special meal.
During this holiday season, Japanese send New Year’s card rather than Christmas card. Design of New Year’s card is very traditional or formal but we have many unique designs that mix and match Japanese culture with traditional western Christmas imagery. When Santa Claus is involved, it is always cute !
Do you think this is just a Christmas imagery ? Not really. Actually Santa Claus coming from Finland sometimes stop by to meet Maiko in Kyoto before visiting children. I wonder what was his present for them!
If you get a chance to visit Japan, where do you want to go?
As far as we know, many foreign tourists would answer “Tsukiji,” ”Shibuya,” ”Asakusa,” and so on. All of these spots in Tokyo are popular among tourists. They would also answer, “Kyoto” or “Nara,” where many historical shrines and temples are located. Most Japan guidebooks for foreigners focus on Tokyo and Kyoto, so these answers are only natural.
Do you know how many prefectures there are in Japan? Japan is a small country, but it has, surprisingly, 47 prefectures. If you are interested in those prefectures, you can get useful information just by going to shops in Tokyo. These shops are called “Antenna Shop, run by a number of Japan’s prefectures, cities and regions as a means to introduce and market themselves, as well as to acquire a sense of consumer trends and tastes outside their own borders.
There are about sixty of these shops in Tokyo—the most advantageous location from which to promote regional specialties—and each presents a friendly introduction to a prefecture or region in Japan. Antenna shops encourage travel and tourism, and promote unique food specialties as well as new ideas and products using traditional ingredients.
In a recent survey of Tokyoites the main reason why they go to antenna shops is to pick up regional food products. The next popular answer was that it was interesting to explore antenna shops followed by picking up brochures for future trips to that prefecture. The other big answer was that people were longing for foods and products from their hometown so came to antenna shops to pick these up.
Some antenna shops also house restaurants: for example, one of the Yamagata Prefecture shops features a popular restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine made with local produce, overseen by a well-known Yamagata chef.
After getting the real taste of a place, customers may be tempted to buy special souvenirs of that locale to round out their “out-of-Tokyo experience.” Traditional local crafts are always popular, such as the handmade lacquerware sold at the Ishikawa Prefecture store, or the lovely kyo-sensu (fans) sold at the Kyoto store which is in front of Tokyo Station. Sometimes, maikos are coming to Tokyo from Kyoto and show their dance performance at Kyoto antenna shop. They also have a facebook page.
Even though Japan is a small country, every area has its original culture. By seeing those shops, we are sure that you will find a prefecture you want to visit in Japan. Or you may even feel like you’ve actually visited many prefectures!
On Sunday Aug. 25, Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel will be host to the spirit of traditional capital Kyoto and the previous life of Tokyo, when it was known as Edo. This show will feature classical dance performances by geiko and maiko from Kyoto, and geisha from Tokyo, a highly unusual combination of extraordinarily accomplished artists representing some of the nation’s most refined schools from its two most respected centers of Japanese dance.
Did you know that Maiko, Geiko and Geisha are different ?
What is Geisha ?
The word Geisha literally translates to “arts person” or “one trained in arts” (gei = art, sha = person). It is also sometimes described as “women of arts, which is exactly what a Geisha is – a woman trained in the traditional arts of Japan such as dance, music, singing to name a few.
What is Maiko ?
The word Maiko literally translates to “dancing child” (mai = dance,ko = child), but is also referred to as “dancing girl”. A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha who must must undergo a period of training that generally takes 5 years, where she learns the various “gei” (arts) such as dancing, singing, music etc before she becomes a Geisha.
What is Geiko ?
The word Geiko is another way of saying Geisha. It is predominately used by Geisha of the Kyoto districts.
Now, you know the difference. Kyoto’s geiko and maiko at the Imperial are from Gionkobu, the largest entertainment district in the old capital, established at the end of the Edo Period. Tokyo’s geisha are from the Shimbashi district, an entertainment section of the city of Edo established in the Ansei Era between 1854 and 1860 and by the Meiji Era one of the new country’s most active cultural centers. The joint performances of Kyoto’s geiko and maiko and Tokyo’s geisha is a highly unusual opportunity to enjoy these two distinctive dance troupes at the same venue at the same time.
Even most of Japanese never have a chance to see Maiko dance nor Geisha dance. How much does the ticket cost ? Well, including dinner and dance performance, 32,000yen (400 USD)per person. That makes sense that I never had a chance to see that.