Season’s greetings from Japan.
2013 has been a very busy year for Japan Studio. We launched four titles this year, including my own Puppeteer. So we’ve all been looking forward to a few well-deserved days off. Although you might be surprised to hear that, here in Japan, we don’t get Christmas off. The 25th of December is just a normal working day.
Since I moved here 10 years ago, Christmas has become more popular but it’s celebrated in a rather strange way. Christmas Eve is actually more important than Christmas itself, where young couple go on dates, families tuck into Kentucky fried chicken, and Santa-san seems to skip past Japan on his whirlwind present delivery world tour.
So we’ve all beem in the office hard at work on new creations for you all to enjoy. Much like Santa’s little helpers at the North Pole.
The New Year is where it’s at in Japan. It’s not a New Year that most of you will celebrate, with fireworks and champagne. Actually, everything closes down and everyone returns to the far-flung corners of Japan to their family homes. New Year’s Eve starts with an old tradition of eating soba noodles late at night. This is followed by a trip to the local shrine at midnight to thank the gods for the previous year, and also wish for a prosperous and healthy New Year. This is called Hatsumode, literally the first visit to a shrine.
Then, as the Temples across Japan ring their bells 108 times for each sin of humankind, everyone heads home for a cup or two of hot sake and bed. Why to bed? Because it’s up early to watch the sun rise on the first day of the New Year. This is called Hatsuhinode, and is meant to bring you good luck.
Then, on New Year’s Day, the celebrations begin. Normally, New Year’s Day is full of drinking and eating traditional foods such as osechi ryori, a three-layered wooden box full of delicious delights. And ozoni, a clear broth soup with mochi (pounded rice) is slurped down and then usually sashimi or sushi. In fact, so much is eaten and drunk that there’s a special soup that’s consumed on the 7th of January called nanakusa-gayu, seven herb soup. This is meant to calm your poor overworked stomach.
There is one tradition that all children look forward to, and that’s Otoshidama. Here, children receive money from their relatives in small envelopes. Let’s hope they use it wisely and buy some games.
From everyone at Japan Studio, we wish you a Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!
Keep on playing.