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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

LIFELINES

Easter answers; credit crunch


By ANGELA JEFFS AND KEN JOSEPH JR.

The letter published in April about Easter in Japan — or rather the lack of it — provoked quite a response. The general consensus appears to be that Easter is too hard to pin down on the calendar for commercialization. Here are a couple of responses:

Over to English teachers

Hillary from Okoma, Nara Prefecture, notes that the biggest purveyors of Western — primarily American — holiday spirit are English teachers.

"A case in point is Halloween, which in recent years has mushroomed in popularity here to the point that many Japanese believe it is a major American holiday. Yet for most people back home the spiritual significance is negligible; it's the fun factor that prevails."

Hillary believes Easter's position on the calendar is probably the number one factor holding back its rampant commercialization. Add to this the fact that, whether it is celebrated in March or April, Easter rarely falls within a standard Japanese school year.

"Additionally, Japanese generally are not in search of more things to do at this time of year. There are graduations, entrance ceremonies, cherry blossom viewing parties and picnics, baseball, and Golden Week just around the corner! Do we need to cram in something more?"

As to the missed opportunity for turning a profit, not to mention for getting the Christian message out, that is a tougher question.

"Christmas is bound to be more popular. Just about everyone finds a baby cute, even one lying in a manger. Resurrection, albeit a glorious hope, follows the unpleasant fact of death, and — in the case of Jesus — a death that is very disturbing in terms of the why as well as the how.

"No, if the Easter bunny is going to include Japan in his rounds, English teachers may have to give up some personal vacation time for extracurricular events. It's in their court. After all, what Japanese girl can resist a cute baby bunny?"

White Day, Black Day?

G.B. from Kobe writes: "We were talking about just the same thing with friends over the weekend!"

It seems they came up with the theory that because Easter Sunday is not a fixed date in the calendar, it's too hard to pin down for commercialization here. Christmas, Halloween and Valentine's Day are date-specific; Easter is not.

G also points out that the Japanese creation White Day has not only been adopted by the Koreans, but they have come up with a followup Black Day in April. This is for singles to celebrate — or maybe that should be commiserate — their status by gathering with other singles, wearing black and eating black beans.

"It sure seems to be a good way to meet someone new for next Valentine's Day. I wonder if the Japanese will import this tradition one day?" (A.J.)

Credit card crunch

A's 6-year-old son wants to join Coerver Soccer School ( www.coerver.co.jp/ ):

"However, the school says that in order for him to enter we have to apply for their credit card. I do not want or need another credit card. However, Coerver insists on this condition and claims it is perfectly legal."

A asks if it is legal for Coerver to refuse his son's application based on this condition. "My son is going to be distraught if he can't join."

Sorry, A and son. The requirement is 100-percent legitimate. This kind of condition for membership is one that is becoming increasingly common.

However, the soccer school is part of an international chain headquartered in the U.S., where membership does not have the same requirement. A quick note to the U.S. head office could bring about a change in policy this end.

Even if it doesn't, the Japan office may let you join in order to avoid causing a fuss, as long as you keep it quiet and it does not start an avalanche of others trying the same tactic. (K.J.)

Lifeline to the past: update

Mark from Cathay Pacific has been in contact regarding former employee Hazel, who wrote in searching for old cabin crew colleagues. He offered to put out an appeal through the company's magazine, CW World, and the cabin crew community at large. When passed his message, Hazel mailed us from Malaysia:

"This is such a wonderful way to start a week — at least I know now where and how to start work on my 'human search,' as they call it in China. Thank you so much." (A.J.)

Angela Jeffs is a freelance writer and writing guide (www.thewriterwithin.net/). Ken Joseph Jr. directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com and (03) 000-911. Send questions, queries, problems and posers to community@japantimes.co.jp


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