Assuming you're one of the many foreigners who will be stuck in your home away from home during the holidays, please read on. If you are one of the "lucky" ones to have your pricey reservations for a trip home, then Bon Voyage!
Imagine that you're pushing your shopping cart down the aisle at Seibu, humming along with the "Muzak-to-shop-by" wafting down at you from the PA system: "I'll be home for Christmas," when the depressing thought hits you that this year, you won't be home!!! Before you slide over the edge into a "Blue Christmas", consider some opportunities that may help to make the season bright.
In addition to various public concerts and exhibits, churches in Tsukuba are hosting special celebrations. The International (English) Christmas Worship Service at Tsukuba Gakuen Church (behind the gas station across from) will be held on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 17th at 2:00 pm., followed by refreshments in the Christian Center next door. On Christmas Sunday, the 24th, the 10:30 a.m. Japanese service (which is translated into English over earphones every Sunday) will be followed by a Christmas luncheon with lots of good food. Visitors are welcome. Also, there will be a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Dec. 24th at 7:00 p.m. featuring a well-trained choir. It will be followed by Christmas caroling at several locations. For more information, call 855-1907.
If you are a bit homesick for Christmas lights (or if you come from a country where that isn't such a tradition, and just want to see them), the Tsukuba Christian Center/YMCA and Gakuen Church will be decorated with thousands of colored bulbs. There will be an "open house" every evening from Dec. 21st through 24th from 6:30 to 9 pm with various goodies and drinks prepared for those who would like to come and experience a little of the Christmas spirit. On Christmas Eve, the open house will begin immediately following the candlelight service at the Gakuen Church.
The Tsukuba Catholic Church in Matsushiro has the following Christmas/New Year's season schedule for the international community: Sunday, Dec. 16, a Spanish language Christmas mass at 3 pm; Saturday, Dec. 23rd at 10 am, a Children's International Christmas Mass and party. Christmas Sunday, Dec. 24th, there will be an 8 am English mass (same as every Sunday) with Japanese at 10 am. That evening, there will be masses at 6 pm in Japanese and 10 pm in English. On Christmas Day at 10 am, there will be a Japanese mass with English translation. The New Year's Eve International Mass begins at 12 midnight, and there will be a New Year's Day Masses in English at 8 am and Japanese at 10 am. For information, call Father Michael Coleman at 836-1723.
The Nozomi Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tsuchiura (Komatsu 3-23-27) also has special holiday programs, including the following: There will be a bilingual childrenís Christmas program on the 23rd at 2 pm. With Christmas Eve being on Sunday this year, the bilingual service be at 3:00 pm followed by a potluck. It is located a little over 1 km south of Tsuchiura Station on the edge of a steep hill overlooking the city. For further information, call Joshua Stahmann at 835-8908.
Tsuchiura Megumi Church, located near the junction of Tsuchiura-Gakuen Sen and the 6-go Bypass, will have two Christmas services on Dec. 25 at 8:30 am, 10:00 am, and 11:30 am, with the last two having simultaneous English translation. There will be two Christmas Eve candlelight services on the 24th, the first beginning at 5 pm and the other at 7 pm and these also include English translation over headphones. There is also a Christmas Dance Festival on the 17th at 6 pm. For further information, call 822-2244.
Tsukuba International Christian Assembly will be having their International Christmas Service on Sunday December 17th at 11.00am. The Christmas program will include traditional carols and gift giving for the children and the service will be followed by a Christmas 'Pot-Luck' meal. TICA wishes to invite all who would like to come and join us on this special day. For more information please contact Pastor Brian Snider: 080-5421-3551
Tsukuba Agape Chapel will hold an International Christmas Potluck Party on Sat., Dec. 16, from 4-7 pm. Itís located on Rt. 408 near the agricultural research institutes between Tsukuba and Ushiku, next to the Kinbasha Pachinko Parlor. Bring a dish to share or drinks or dessert. There will be a Christmas Eve Candle Service in English on the 24th from 7 pm. Contact Stu Lynch for more information about either of these events: slynch[AT]asianaccess.org or 859-1260.
If it's the secular shopping hoopla that you miss, you'll love getting yourself trampled while checking out the seasonal offerings at the department stores. The real stampede, however, is in Tokyo, and for merry masochistic madness, a day at Akihabara or Harajuku is unsurpassed as pure holiday in"SANTA"ty!.
Christmas cakes have become a Japanese tradition as well established as New Year's "omochi". Our advice, however, is to go easy on these white, strawberry-topped concoctions, sweet enough to give Santa diabetes. You may well be invited to one or more "bonenkai" (forget-the-year parties), where you will be enticed to down enough beer and "sake" to make you forget not only the year but also your name and how to get home. While we naively hope for sobriety in this season, we realize that there will be some plastered gaijin here and there. If you end up being one, don't drive! The police are lurking in wait to lift your driver's license.
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