Stuck in Nag for the hollidays? Daniel Ostrander feels your pain

For the fourth year in a row, I, me and mine are spending the winter season stranded in the NAG. And while my previous three Holiday entries were tinged with the faint glimmers of hope for anything resembling a Christmas I used to know, with this one I fear that I have given into an early onset of cabin fever.

Therefore, I present to you several gifts that our adoptive home town has bequeathed to us this festive season. It’s like an Advent Calendar, except besides a few sweet treats there’s disappointment behind every door… so, it’s just like an Advent Calendar.

The Two Dark Towers

One of the few things that Japan usually does right in December is the twinkling lights. However, for the second year in a row, the JR Towers will go without their annual retina scarring display. In its stead, you can head over to the The Nagoya Orchid Gardens near Yaba-cho station, which boasts 150,000 lights this year, with admission only ¥700. Or, if you don’t mind the trip, Nagoya Port usually has pretty good illuminations along with music and a fireworks display on the 24th.

Plenty of Feastin’

One of the few comforts a foreigner has in December are the multiple chances to strap on the holiday feed bag. This year, the Turkey dinners can be had at the Red Rock (23rd-25th), The 59’s (20th-25th) and Shooters (21st-25th). Or, if you fancy roasting your own bird, features an extinction-level event worth of carcasses for your holiday consumption. And if you don’t own an oven with enough fortitude to handle all that meat, they even offer a service where Shooters will cook your Turkey and prepare all the fixin’s.

Foreclosure Looming

One of the best Christmas parties this year is the Winter Snow Ball on December 16, presented by Power English, Nagoya Swings and the Jansu Dance Academy. And while this celebratory party features live music from three bands, a plethora of dance performances and lessons and plenty of seasonal food and drinks, the fact that this is the Winter Garden’s last party puts a bit of a damper on it.

Nobody Dancing

The drummers may be drumming at the FREE New Year’s Eve countdown parties at Café Domina and Club About, but Japan’s law banning dancing at such clubs is the Grinch that stole NAGmas. And while that law often goes unheeded, you’d be better off avoiding the uncertainty for some live music with the Michael Wade Band who will be rocking out the Red Rock’s countdown party and the Obvious Circus DJs dij and scrying over at Shooters on December 31st starting at 18:00.

Lords and Ladies Giving (till it hurts!)

No matter how grinchy I may get, I am always moved by those with big hearts and wallets. Every year I am humbled by the efforts of Santa and Friends Nagoya, a local charity that helps to raise toys, money and awareness of the many orphanages in our area. You may not have time to be a part of their annual Christmas Festival on December 2, but now that they have events year-around, it’s never too late to get involved. More details at You also have time to hit up the LIFE Party in Mie on December 8, when DJs Andy S, scrying, m@ and several others will be spinning their wares to raise money for the leukemia-related charity Yuuki no Kai.

Ski Bunnies Hopping

Sometimes, the only escape from December depression is to get the hell out of town. My recommendation? Head up north to Nagano where the Aqua Alpine will be happy to put you up for the night in one of their lovely suites with powder adjacent. The Hakuba Backpackers Hostel has a number of events all December long, including a Christmas celebration and their always fun Countdown party. And if you’re up that way, you have to stop by Tracks Bar for a drink or six. During the ski season they always have a number of excellent DJs and bands performing.

Hmmm…. I may have gone into this piece feeling like Scrooge, but by the end I realize there are still lots of good things happening this December. And while I cannot be with my loved ones back in Tennessee, I count myself fortunate to be able to spend the holidays with you, my Nagoya family.

God bless us, everyo… what’s that? YOU are going home for the holidays?! Well, screw you with a candy cane, buddy!

Happy Holidays, one and all.

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