Holiday traditions differ in Toyokoro

Happy New Year from Toyokoro, Japan! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays this year.

Happy New Year from Toyokoro, Japan! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays this year.

I spent my holidays and New Year in Malaysia and Singapore this year, which was amazing!

I did however spend Christmas in Japan, which was extremely different than Christmas in Canada.

First of all, Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, only an observed holiday. Christmas Day in Japan is just like any other day; everyone was at work, including me, and there was really no mention of the fact that it was Christmas at all.

I brought in wrapped Christmas gifts for everyone in my office, which I think they really enjoyed.

Over the past month, I have been asking many people in Toyokoro how they celebrate Christmas.

The majority of people in Japan will eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner on Christmas Day and for dessert they will have strawberry Christmas cake.

The first time someone told me they eat KFC for Christmas, I thought they were joking, but it is indeed true.

There is such an overwhelming amount of people ordering KFC for Christmas that sometimes you need to pre-order your chicken weeks in advance.

As for Christmas cake, it’s exactly like regular birthday cake, except it will have a Santa figurine on the top.

Something that I found very surprising about Japanese Christmas traditions is that Christmas is not meant to be a time that is spent with your whole family.

One of my Japanese friends told me that Christmas Eve is a time that you are supposed to spend with your spouse or partner and then on Christmas Day you spend time with only your household family.

There are not big family dinners with more than 20 people during the holidays like there is in Canada.

I think that one of the reasons for this is that Japanese houses are very small and would not be able to accommodate that many people.

While Christmas may not be a big deal in Japan, New Year’s is!

New Year’s is a time that Japanese people will spend time with their whole family.

At midnight families will travel to their local shrine and bring welcome and thanks to their god.

They will also receive a New Year’s fortune at the shrine, which will show all of their luck or misfortune for the year to come.

New Year’s is a much bigger occasion in Japan than Canada.

There are many ceremonies during the first week of the New Year and all people will bow and say Happy New Year to every individual person in their office or place of work.

New Year’s appears to be one of the most important holidays in the Japanese culture.

It has been seven months since I arrived in Japan, but my teaching contract will be finished in July 2016.

Toyokoro is looking to hire a new Assistant English Teacher. This job is extremely rewarding and fun.

I have gained so many great experiences here, including meeting new people, becoming a better teacher, traveling the world, and becoming the bridge that connects two small towns from across the Pacific Ocean.

In order to be eligible for this teaching position you must be a resident of Summerland (past or present), hold a bachelor’s degree, be interested in Japanese culture, and have a willingness to learn the Japanese language.

For more information on how to apply for the Toyokoro AET position, please contact Leanne Sieben at

If you would like more specific information on what this job entails or have any questions with regards to living in Japan, please contact me at

Allyssa Hooper is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.


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