Whether through lack of funds, lack of planning or just a general lack of common sense; a number of foreigners will find themselves in Nagoya during the upcoming season. And while this may be a novelty for the newbies, for whom eating osechi and ringing the temple bell is still quaint, the more hardened Nagoya veteran probably considers it akin to being stranded in that hotel from The Shining. And while all work and no play do indeed make for a dull boy, a little traditional holiday fare will go a long way to keep you from murdering your loved ones with an axe this winter break.

Japan seems to have completely missed the point of many Christmas traditions (unless “manger” translates as “love hotel” in Japanese). However, they do a damn fine job with the lights, as the yearly giant display at the JR Towers demonstrates. For more illuminated glory, head to Nagoya Port where a huge tree and over 45,000 lights will light up until 22:00 each night until Christmas day, along with a jazz orchestra and fireworks display on the 24th. The Nagoya Orchid Gardens near Yaba-cho station boasts 150,000 lights this year, with admission only ¥700

While I applaud KFC for fooling an entire country into believing that Jesus eats fried chicken on his birthday, I know that most of you would rather have turkey and all the fixins; and you won’t have to go without. Probably the earliest chance to strap on your holiday feedbag comes at the Red Rock, who will host a festive nomi-tabe-houdai on the 10th with Nagoya Friends. Along with their giant Xmas sale, the Mondo Lounge is offering a posada (Mexican-style Christmas feast) on Saturday the 17th starting at 18:00, complete with Spanish food and piñatas! The Terrace restaurant in Hilton Nagoya will be offering a Christmas buffet on the 24th and 25th for both lunch and dinner (children prices available). And down the road, Shooters is the only places in town to offer a choice of honey-baked ham in lieu of turkey on their Christmas plate special.

And what Christmas is complete without a party wherewith you can parade around in your mistletoe-adorned underwear. On the 11th, Duck and the Billys will play some rockabilly cheer at Shooters with the Nagoya Swings dance group for their annual A Swingin’ Christmas. And no one wants to be alone this season, and Nagoya-Life can help with their Singles Mixer at the Red Rock on the 17th. Finally, DJ PauloAtNight will be packing the floor at Gen’s 2nd in Sakae on both the 23rd and 24th.

Though illuminated debauchery is a big part of the season, it is often said that giving is better than receiving. And it is that charitable notion that has motivated Santa and Friends Nagoya to bring gifts and holiday festivities to hundreds of orphans in the greater Nagoya area for the past 7 years. To get involved, drop them an email at MyBar will also be collecting toys for the children in the Tohoku region until December 16th. Please check or on Facebook for more details. And for a chance to help out internationally, the Nagoya International Center sells Christmas cards every year with all the proceeds being donated to UNICEF.

Unless you’re planning on counting down to the apocalypse in a fallout shelter underneath your tatami, you’ll probably be looking for a more celebratory approach to the New Year. Well, everyone with a bar and a watch will be hosting a countdown party on the 31st, but there are a few that rise above the rabble. In Fushimi, you can always raise a pint at the Elephant’s Nest, For something a little more retro, Shooters is encouraging everyone to dust off their member’s only jackets and come Safety Dance all night long at their Countdown To The 80s party. Or you can head over to Sakae where Club iD will no doubt have all 5 floors, including their new B-Cave, packed to the rafters. I was especially elated to hear that the Red Rock is bringing back their Casino Royale New Years Eve party, with Las Vegas-style gaming for prizes and koala cash.

And finally, if you just must get out of town, head up north to Nagano (if you start glowing, you’ve gone too far) 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.

Happy Holidays and RED RUM for all!

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