Christmas is a-comin! If you’ve got childhood memories of gifts under the tree and turkey on the table, adjusting to Christmas present in Japan can be a tricky time. It’s a working day for most; and if your Japanese family and friends can actually get time off to celebrate with you, of course you want to share a real taste of home with them.
Buying a tree and some kawaii Christmas decorations is easy, as shops here have definitely embraced the more commercial side of Christmas. Christmas cake is in plentiful supply too – thought it’s likely to be sweeter and creamier than the stuff your folks will be sharing.
The centerpiece of the Christmas meal still remains one of the hardest things to get hold of. No Christmas meal in the US, Australia or the UK is complete without a real turkey. But it’s not a popular meat in Japan; and even if you can get hold of it, most Japanese homes lack a big enough oven to cook it in.
If you’ve got an oven, you’ve got two choices. For grab-off-the-shelf-and-go, your best bet is the old faithful Costco, where you can pick up a turkey (around ¥5,000) plus all the trimmings. Or, order your bird online with The Meat Guy (themeatguy.jp), who offers everything from plain turkeys to the turducken – a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey! Prices vary depending on size, but a familysized turkey will cost around ¥7,000. Of course, supplies in both cases are limited, so plan ahead if the turkey will make or break your meal.
While you’re shopping around online, you may want to visit the Foreign Buyer’s Club website (fbcusa.com), which offers some of those hard-to-find trimmings like cranberry sauce (¥420), mince pie filling (¥685), canned yams (¥455), advent calendars (around ¥650) and family-sized turkeys (¥4,000- 5,000). Similar products and prices are also offered by the Britsuperstore website (britsuperstore.com). Just remember that shipping is from the UK, so be careful to place your order in time and watch your packaging and import costs carefully.
While roast bird often steals the yuletide show, let’s not overlook the all-important Christmas pud. For the most authentic mince pies, stollen and Christmas pudding in Kansai, the ever popular British bakery Broadhurst’s (shopping.broadhursts.com) is your go-to destination. If this doesn’t satisfy your cravings, both Takashimaya and Hankyu department stores are falling over themselves to be the first to popularize Yule Logs (Bûche de Noël) in Kansai (expect to pay around ¥4,000) and Seijoishii are trying the same for mince pies (¥890 for a family box) and rich fruit Christmas pudding (¥1,490).
In previous years, it has been difficult to get your hands on good gingerbread, but that all changed when the Hilton Osaka set up a small shop in its foyer selling everything from gingerbread Christmas tree packs (¥1,480) to those wonderfully decorated houses (between ¥3,600 and ¥4,900 depending on size). Nestled next to the hotel’s seasonal display and tastefully decorated tree, the shop will delight kids for more reasons than one. A short reindeer ride away at the Umeda Sky Building, the annual German Christmas market is somewhere you can warm your hands with a hot wine and munch on enormous slabs of iced gingerbread while admiring the towering light-strewn tree. Expect to pay around ¥1,000 for the experience.