Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Merry Christmas everyone. Many years ago, I stopped sending Christmas cards. Last year, I stopped sending out traditional Japanese New Years cards and sent email instead. This year, I'm going to stop sending email greetings as well. I hate to be a scrooge, but firing up my bulk mailer, importing my address book and spewing forth my seasons greetings feels way too much like spam.

Thanks to my birthday script, I have a way to spread greetings to my friends across the whole year instead of having to pack it all into one day. (By the way, if I don't know you, you're not going to get a personal greeting...) So please excuse me if you don't get a electronic greeting card from me for the holidays. As Seth says, I think this is one more treasured tradition that has become roadkill along the information super-highway.

On that note, does anyone know who decided that in Japan, Christmas was the day that you were supposed to go on a date with your honey and end up in a hotel room? Every restaurant has a special Christmas menu tonight for couples and ALL of the hotel will be booked by couples for a romantic evening.

Did you know that Japanese families will be lining up in front of Kentucky Fried Chickens today to get their chicken for Christmas? I DO know where this comes from. When my friend Shin, introduced KFC to Japan, the ad campaign showed wealthy American families all eating friend chicken for their holiday feast. KFC was marketed as an upscale food of the privileged in America. This triggered a tradition in Japan for families to eat friend chicken on Christmas.

(I'm on a roll now...)

And you DO know that in Japan only men receive chocolates on Valentine's Day and that women receive their chocolates on "White Day" one month later. (This notion was introduced by the confectionary industry in Japan.) People are encouraged to give chocolates widely and these chocolates are called giri choko (obligatory indebtedness chocolates) in Japanese.

So, although I'm a sucker for ritual, this is all getting a bit crazy for me. I think I'm going p-time on this whole situation and will give people gifts and greet people spontaneously and in a load-balanced way so I don't get thrown out with the spam.

UPDATE: No room at Japan's Love Hotels at Christmas - BBC
Thanks for the link Khalid


Let it out Joi. Breathe. Wooosa. Wooosa.

There. Feel better?

Yeah, the love hotel thing is crazy!! Where I live, Shibuya, there isnt a single room available and most regular hotels have been booked out for months! Whats even stranger is that most of the couples staying in the love hotels get up and go to work on christmas day!!

The commercialism of Chrismas in Japan (in comparison even to the state of Xmas in the US) is enough to take one's breath away.
The consumer culture here is so pervasive and powerful at times, it is really equally inspiring and scary.


Christmas coincides with Channuka most years, so I'm a bit shielded of the overt commercialism. Even so, this year I found myself in a frenzy of buying gifts. Disgusting! :)

Israel is the same. KFC is non-kosher, so it's a big success, because it's "cool" to be un-Jewish. It's upscale and you get a bit away from it all when you go to KFC. It's like going out of Israel, abroad, a bit. I only found out here that KFC is considered barely OK, a don't-get-seen-by-your-friends kind of place.

It's all in the positioning.

Love hotels are something uniquely Japanese. I dont think they'd even be allowed here, and we're in the most liberal part of the country (SF Bay Area). On the other hands, if one were started, I am sure people would flock to it just for the scandalous behavior value :).


and THIS is the reason why we have SANTACON!

To Tokyo people: Where were you guys on Dec 20th?!
- or click my name here...

Video to come shortly...

Santacon - "Bad Santa" with the GOOD ending! :)

It is not only that Joi but when an American is married to a Japanese women our biggest holiday is Christmas where as in Japan you biggest holiday is New Years. I find her not getting excited about Christmas where I am all pumped up and she is excited for New Years and I am just ready for a nap... Don't know about the KFC thing but geez KFC isnt even open here on holidays. BTW who is the babe with the dog on the Moblog she is beautiful

Love hotels are nothing new in argentina. there are litterally hundreds of them. they have a hidden parking garage and offer room service that is left on a double door cupboard.
they go from plain to really unusual such as a Roman decadent ambiance.
Unlike Japans they are usually empty in Christmas eve since mostmarried men will find it difficult to justify their abscense from home...

ps: If u need a room on xmas in japan head for the capsulu hotels they cater only to single guests

The girl in the picture is my fiance, Mizuka.

We're going to chill (literally) at home tonight with Bo.

hey! u hace great script ideas for holydays

Glad you have a fiancee, Joi, since it seems that most of the photos on the site are mail and most of the comments are from men.

Yes, the customs here are different than in most places. I went to Millenario on New Year's Eve and it was mostly young couples and some families, a few with their dogs, one brave one with a baby. Some people in the crowd noted that people are now going to the light-up instead of to the usual shrine visit, though today (Jan. 2) there were huge crowds at the Imperial Palace listening to the Emperor's greeting and eyeballing the Imperial family. I saw it on TV, since I too have stayed home for the new year and went on a trip in Japan with guests from Hawaii (who had never before experienced snow and cold weather) around Xmas time.

Wishing you a happy new year.

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