Is It Christmas Already?
By Mark Guthrie
How on earth did that happen? It’s kind of crept up on us, hasn’t it? Yeah, back home we would be left in no doubt of what time of year it is. By now every square inch will be covered in tinsel and spray snow, and we would have had Christmas songs piped so far into our brains that we would be starting to ask ourselves searching questions over the brand of wax Rudolph uses to maintain optimum nose shininess, and battering complete strangers to within an inch of their life each time Noddy Holder screams IIIIt’s CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!!!!!!!*
But now, here it is, so you better start planning for the holiday season. Most magazines will have a broad handful of helpful holiday hints advising you how to better prepare yourself, but we at NAGMAG think we’re better than them. We know our demographic, because we care about our readership, and we realise that we have readers at both ends of the economic spectrum. Some of you are high flying corporate executives, swimming in cash, sucking on the infinitely bountiful nipple of economic superiority. And then, well, there is the rest of you, impoverished, drunken bums who live paycheck to increasingly diminishing paycheck. So with that in mind, we will be giving you a wider, more representative scope of instructions for surviving Nagoya this Christmas. Isn’t that nice of us?
For some, this is the most stressful time of the year, but for you wealthy elite, there is nothing to worry about. You probably have an assistant who is willing to rush out and do your bidding at the drop of your expensively millinered hat. Or if you want to add the personal touch, you can head to the upmarket stores in Midland Square and for that special someone you could pop into Tiffany’s in Sakae, because, let’s face it, you know exactly what she’ll do for diamonds, don’t you. You dirty bastard.
For the more impoverished of you, Christmas shopping is a ball ache. Trudging around the conbinis, counting your pennies before finally ending up at the 100 yen stores wondering how happy your mum will be with a Hello Kitty pencil case. A word of advice: she won’t be. And that’s assuming you can afford the postage home. Which you can’t.
Everyone, from all parts of the cash kaleidoscope likes a party, and Christmas is a particularly busy time for revelry. Those of you who are flush with the magic yen will be partying your tits off. Whether you are swilling Veuve Clicquot at Tierra, stuffing your face with premium priced lobster at Katana, or snorting top range Bolivian nose candy from the bodies of high-class hostesses at [location name removed on legal advice], your Christmas works do is bound to go with a bang.
But you paupers need not be left out, for Christmas is a time of charity and, if you spend long enough moping around the gaijin bars, someone may be kind enough to shout you a beer. Failing that, you could always hang around outside Nagoya Station and scrap with the bums for the remains of their One Cup sake. They are malnourished and weaker than you. Only just.
The Japanese are well known for innovation, but one sphere in which they let themselves down is keeping their buildings warm. Not that you rich buggers care about that. No doubt your home has top of the range heating systems, and luxurious kotatsus under which you recline. In the event that this is not enough, you can head to the snowy peaks of Nagano and laze in cabins with roaring fires or soak in your own private outdoor onsen, before hopping on a plane to Okinawa to top up your winter tan.
The rest of you are not so lucky. Instead you will awaken on Christmas morning fully dressed. Not because you plan on rushing with a childish glee towards your piles of gifts, unfettered by the time-absorbing chore of pulling your clothes on, but more out of necessity, as to sleep in anything less than full ski gear under your dirt-cheap, filth-encrusted blankets in your shithole, box apartment will find you freezing to death in the night. Even then you will likely still be cold, but unable to afford even the cheapest of kairo, you simply shove used (three or four times) teabags onto your skin for that momentary bliss of their scolding, chilblaining touch.
Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones, but most of you will be far away from the bosom of your families. This holds no worry for you toffs though, does it? In your high-flying lifestyle you meet many of Nagoya’s beautiful people, all of whom would give their eye-teeth to snuggle up with you to sing about figgy pudding while watching the Queen’s Christmas Message*. If you don’t go in for luvvy-duvvy stuff, ‘companionship’ is only a phone call away, and the outlay for a lady caller (the number for which can be found later in this magazine) a mere pittance to you.
You poor bastards have it much tougher though. Finding companionship isn’t easy when even buying the object of your affections, a can of chuhai, is preposterously out of your budget. As such, the closest you are likely to get to a bit festive frottage is when dressed as Santa in a shitty eikaiwa, and one of the little bastards gives you the type of kancho that reaches the small intestine. Or, even worse, when the Oba-san who runs the school not so subtly infers that your continued employment is dependent on you slipping out of your costume and helping to fill her Christmas stocking. At least the contact with her greying skin may offer you a few moments of warmth. Followed by a lifetime of shame.
And finally the big day is upon you, and no Christmas is complete without a great big turkey with all the trimmings. Well, you lords and ladies of the Nagoya Manor will pull out all the stops. The Meat Guy will supply you with enough turkey to give Bernard Mathews a run for his money, and you can even have all the stuffings, mince pies, pigs in blankets, crackers with jokes hand-penned by Chris Rock and even brussels sprouts you want, all flown in from around the world to satiate your every Christmas craving. Come Boxing Day you’ll be port-glazed and dropping brussels sprout bombs to your heart’s content.
Yes, finally the big day is upon you, and no Christmas is complete without a great big turkey with all of the trimmings. Well, you scumbags and scumbagettes of the Nagoyan underclass will find your day incomplete. No matter how much you try and kid yourselves, mashing together big handfuls of fried chicken from the conbini does not a turkey make. Come Boxing Day you’ll be happusho-soaked, depressed, and beginning to understand why so many people top themselves at this time of year.
*And yes, they were pretty niche British references, and no I’m not going to explain them for you. You’re a grown adult, I’m not your mother. Google it for fuck’s sake.