Making Christmas in Japan

It still surprises friends back in the UK that Christmas isn’t a holiday in Japan. I can’t blame them. Christmas is so ingrained in our culture that, unless you’ve traveled the world a bit or have international friends, you’d just assume that Christmas is an important occasion everywhere. But, as you soon find out when you live here, Christmas is very different in Japan. Actually, a lot has changed in

Big in Japan (2): A defense of Starbucks

It’s hip to criticize Starbucks. Starbucks is seen as the epitome of all that’s evil in the world, a huge multinational company that squeezes out the small local establishments, a place that doesn’t serve coffee so much as serves warm milk with a hint of bitter coffee taste. That’s not how I see Starbucks. For me it’s a safe space, and comes close to the ‘third space’ that it promised

Big in Japan: on clothes

Japan is definitely not designed for someone of my size. I am over six feet tall (nearly 2 meters) with pretty broad shoulders. I am not particularly fat—although I’ve put on a lot of weight since my diagnosis of depression, a side-effect of antidepressants, and being inside a lot due to the pandemic—but I am most definitely too large for Japanese spaces. Of course buying clothes has been a challenge