My mom and I visited my grandmother for two weeks this past December. I rarely go to Japan during the winter so some of the experience was rather novel. Naturally, the soundtrack was George Michael singing "Last Christmas" and Mariah Carey "All I Want For Christmas Is You." Reservations were being taken for Christmas cakes, cooked chickens and turkeys, and KFC (I couldn't get fried chicken on the 23rd because they were only fulfilling reservation orders!). It's quite festive, except there's no religious or any real meaning behind it all so it felt a bit surreal. I wanted to see Santa on a cross, but I think they got past that gaffe a while ago.
Aside from experiencing the Christmas spirit, I ate a lot of steamed buns and udon noodles. Other noteworthy components of my experience was the weather--it rarely gets below 40 degrees (F), so it was kind of confusing. I'd get hot while walking or on the train, but it'd be freezing at night. I was also there during the elections and saw the changeover of power from the Democratic Party of Japan to the more conservative Liberal Democratic Party of Japan. I was amazed at the reality of political third parties--some people I know voted for the Communist party; I was rooting for the doomed green "Future Party." The elections made me think about Japan more generally: its (homogeneous) population as a whole, its relation to foreign countries, the war's ongoing effects, the current generation, potential directions for the future. I often think about these things here and there, but it wasn't until this trip that I've been able to better collect my thoughts.
I'll be posting some pictures I took, mostly with my iPhone, and which were edited with an app called Camera+. I've got more "stolen images" of random people! :D