Christmas in JapanPosted: May 18, 2012
By Mary Lou Darst, author of War Ready: In My Father’s Shadow.
Americans on Mount Kurokuriyama made Christmas in Japan special. There were colored lights in the windows of the duplexes, and nearly everyone had a real Christmas tree decorated with colored lights and bright decorations. At school, we practiced singing Christmas carols and a Christmas pageant for the PTA program. I was asked to be an angel and stood with my arms extended while the choir sang, ‘Angels We Have Heard on High.” All of this brought traditions from the States to our isolated community on top of the mountain.
On Christmas morning, Frank and I found Japanese-made bicycles near the Christmas tree, and a small book, an English version, of traditional Japanese children’s stories, Old Tales of Japan by Yuri Yasuda. We both loved this book.
My father helped Frank learn to balance on his first two-wheeled bike. They were in the street in front of the duplex most of Christmas Day. My father pushed the bike and watched him balance, and then he ran to catch it before Frank fell or crashed. My cousin Helen taught me to ride her bike in Blytheville, Arkansas=-I still have the scars on my knees to prove it-so I didn’t have any trouble riding my shiny maroon bike. It even had handbrakes. I loved that bike, and I loved to ride so fast that my hair blew in the wind like it did when I stood next to my father on a ship’s deck. When we transferred back to the States, we left our bikes in Japan.Hatsie might have taken them home to her brothers and sisters.