Japan seems to be big on everything about Christmas but the day itself. Trees and decorations have been up all over the country since October, Santa Claus is a regular fixture in storefronts, and holiday music has been playing non-stop. But December 25 is just another workday here. Businessmen will trudge to the office, stores will open as usual, teachers will teach, schoolkids will doze, trash will be picked up, and lunches will be eaten. Gifts, when they’re exchanged, will be limited to small tokens between lovers, as on Valentines Day. It’s a surreal experience.

I’m heading to Osaka and Kyoto for the next few days, where I’ll visit friends and hopefully catch a little holiday spirit. In the meantime, have yourself a holly, jolly Christmas.