December 25, 2006


Tokyo's King of Holiday Lights (SEBASTIAN MOFFETT and AMY CHOZICK, December 22, 2006, Wall Street Journal)

Looking for a way to please his newborn son eight years ago, Tomoyuki Ishikawa decorated a Christmas tree with colored lights. But the loving gesture turned into an obsession. Last year, Mr. Ishikawa arranged 83,000 light bulbs into images of snowmen, Santa and sleighs on the walls, entrance and roof of his house in this suburb north of Tokyo.

Some 5,000 people a day came to admire and take photographs, and the local police department sent crowd-control cops, who disturbed the neighbors as they barked orders by megaphone. Mr. Ishikawa's wife pointed out that the 20 million yen (about $170,000) he'd spent over the years on bulbs and electricity could have paid off their mortgage. He decided to make that year his last -- but set up a business putting up displays for others.

Mr. Ishikawa, 41, stands at the extreme end of a bizarre phenomenon. While Japan mostly practices a mixture of Buddhism and the indigenous religion of Shinto, it goes crazy over Christmas illuminations, turning homes, stores and businesses into twinkling fairytales of tiny lights.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2006 3:59 PM

While the Japanese may celebrate Christmas, they don't quite grasp the tenets of Christianity.

A few years back a Japanese department store reportedly had a crucified Santa in its window display.

Posted by: Mörkö at December 26, 2006 3:14 PM

If Santa could give us what God did wouldn't he?

Posted by: oj at December 26, 2006 3:31 PM