gaijinassbannerHalloween is over and forward we go into sweet November.  But how sweet is it, really?  On one hand there’s the beginning of the holiday season starting, traditionally, from the Thanksgiving day weekend.

But what does one do in the nebulous limbo beginning from the garbage strewn streets of Shibuya post All-Hallows-Eve running up to the premier soul sacrificing capitalist orgy known as “Black Friday”?

Consort with criminals?

Corn soup and and an existential crisis?


As we can see the options are limited  and bleak.  The following are particular pitfalls the savvy Tokyo-ite will go to links to avoid at all costs.  Be forewarned.

5.  Wildly Premature Christmas Festivities

“But people do this in _______ too!”

Sure, they do.

But the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, seriously damaging the US Navy’s fleet, and make no mistake about it: They’ll bomb the shit out of your sense of holiday timing with just as much maniacal zeal.


Technically, the Christmas caterwauling began even before Halloween. People were walking into franchise coffee shops and were assaulted by some B-class singer/song writer crooning into a microphone about “Santa Claus, Baby.”

Then Frappaccinos were ordered.  Because those are really good.

So, like most things the Japanese adopt, they just went way overboard; too much, too soon and too…JAPANESE.

Avoid this November pitfall by lecturing everyone you meet on the benefits of prisons and work houses decreasing the surplus population.  Or, better yet, teach this as your only lesson this holiday season.

"Who wants to go on a school trip to the PRISON?!"
“Who wants to go on a school trip to the PRISON and WORKHOUSES?!”

4. Bi-Polar Weather and Heating

It’s not too hot but it’s not too cold it’s…Tokyo!

When the thermometer read 23, it was all t-shirts and booty shorts. When it moved to 22 everyone put on mufflers, caps and over coats.  Then it was 23 again, now it’s 20, but now it’s 24.  For me, little changes.  I dress like it’s summer time until the temperature falls below 20.  However, for the natives, even the slightest hint of a chill in the air can cause instantaneous cold related injuries or, based on local panic, DEATH.

22 degrees.
22 degrees.

People have different internal thermostats.  So perhaps the girl on the train platform wearing an overcoat, a muffler, a knit cap and mittens, while I stand next to her in shorts and a t-shirt, is actually really cold and not just an idiot.  But is that really any reason for every single train car and shop in Tokyo to have their heaters on?  I can finally walk down the street without bringing a towel to mop the sweat away with but if I walk into a store I am blasted in the face with a wave of stale hot air.

Damn you, Tokyo. Can I not enjoy even a moment of comfort?

Things will just get worse as the days on the calendar tick by.  This actually brings us right up the the gates of number 3. Sort of…

3. Tsunami of Slutty Santa’s

Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi: You name the night district and the slutty Santa girls are already there waiting for you.

She doesn't want milk and cookies.
She doesn’t want milk and cookies.

She wants your wallet.

These little nymphs are at all the “girl’s bars” and “oppai pubs” and have been since the day after Halloween.  Strolling down the streets of West Ikebukuro one fine evening, as a gentleman does, I even heard one of them butchering jingle bells from the door step of what appeared to be a filthy (read: enticing) brothel.  I took a moment to look at the shit-faced salary man ogling her ample endowments as she murdered that Christmas classic then shook my head and let go with a sigh, “Ah, Ikebukuro” and continued on my merry way.

“Bro, what’s the problem with sluts in Santa costumes?”

Don’t call me Bro, Chief.

And the problem isn’t the sluts in Santa costumes it’s simply a matter of timing and aesthetics; the season has not yet begun!  These hookers are jumping the Christmas gun and I simply won’t stand for it.

That having been said, there are worse things on the streets of Ikebukuro than Yuletide harlots.

2. Crows

They know my nightmares and they all speak fluent terror and November seems to be, unequivocally, their month.

I give you the secret rulers of the Ikebukuro streets: the CROWS.

KNEEL before your Avian rulers humans.

They talk, they plan and they remember who you are and what you did.

Run. Just fucking run.

1. The Inevitably Ill-conceived Thanksgiving Dinner Variation

It’s rapidly approaching and if you were in Minnesota, New Jersey, Prince Edward Island or where-ever, your mouth would likely be beginning to water as you imagine the coming feast.

Thanksgiving hedonism.

Growing up in a middle class family a la pax Americana in the heart of the freedom-spewing US of A many an epicurean feast have been observed.  The quantities and proportions are now lost to the annuls of time and toilet but let me tell you, I ate a shit ton of good food.  So did you.  This is why whilst far and away, and we do it every year, we try to recreate these Romanesque days of yore here in our adopted home of miso soup, pickles and rice balls.

The problem here, is that inevitably it goes wrong; horribly wrong.

It's my Mom's recipe.
It’s my Mom’s recipe.

One year I caused a ham to detonate in someone else’s oven (#falseflag).  Another year half the people at a dinner ended up getting violent diarrhea due to a horribly flawed attempt at sweet potato casserole.  I stood by, helpless another time, as a  sweet blonde girl from, I think Oregon, nearly started crying when her rhubarb pie had the consistency and flavor of second hand urinal cakes.  She internalized it and saw all her tattered relationships with men staring back at her from that vengeful failure of a holiday staple which had become her void.

I saw a guy nearly choke to death on carrot sticks and dip.

The carnage.

But we keep trying.  We keep on trying every time because what’s the other option?  Oden and dried squid?  More highly over carbonated and wildly over-rated Asahi with some week old 7/11 “furidu potatosu”? Simply put, there are are no other options.  Living as we have chosen we’re doomed to experience this holiday over and over, never quite getting it right but treasuring it none the less because the alternatives are too bleak to contemplate.  I suppose the only thing left to do is embrace the madness, scream TORA! TORA! TORA! and Kamikaze the hell out of this coming weekends Thanksgiving efforts.


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