Christmas in Japan

Although it is said that most Japanese are Shinto and Buddhist, few people are aware the Japanese also participate in "commercialized Christianity" in order to take advantage of those fun Christian holidays.

Christmas, with its sparkly, over-glitzed trees, a cherry-cheeked Santa Claus and the ritual of gift-giving is irresistible to the Japanese who have taken to celebrating Christmas on a superficial level. You can hardly blame them for wanting to participate in such an entertaining religion.

But the Japanese have adjusted Christmas to their own liking. Santa-san enters the house through the window and brings one gift to each child on Christmas Eve, which he leaves on the child's bed. Christmas also plays a romantic role, a type of Valentine's Day for couples. But there is plenty of Christmas spirit too -- decorations, Christmas carols piped into shopping malls, and of course Christmas sales.

And there is one stellar biped who has stuck his neck out to represent Christmas in Japan: the chicken. Chicken is the official Christmas dinner and most families order KFC to spread the Christmas joy.

If Buddhism were more popular in the USA, we'd surely have chocolatized and candied the entire religion by now: jelly bean Buddha beads, The 7 Chocolate Gods of Goodluck, gingerbread Buddhas and shortbread Buddha footprints -- with toe rings.

And we would have caroled the mantras by now: The Little Taiko Drummer Boy, Little Town of Lumbini, Come all ye Bodhisattvas, We wish you a merry Buddha-mas, and Hark the Herald Kannon Sings.

We would have some real fun with the patron saints of Buddhism. Jizo, God of Children, would certainly do a little more charitable giving -- at least to the kiddies. I mean, why wait until the afterlife? Guide our children to commercialism now!

Kannon, Goddess of Mercy, grants people salvation but in these modern times I think something a little more materialistic would go over really well. The thousand-armed-Kannon, with all her useful hands, would make even Santa Claus jealous. She wouldn't need all those elves to make toys for her. If Santa made Kannon the CEO of Christmas Inc., I bet she'd even come up with better quality, more compassionate products. And who wouldn't prefer products 'Made in Nirvana?'" Having Kannon on board would allow Santa-san, who is really getting on in years, to finally retire. I realize that hiring the thousand-armed-Kannon would take jobs away from the elves, but hey, this is capitalism!

Maybe Japan should consider commercializing Buddhism. It could be just the thing to give the Japanese economy a boost.