Being Santa


I was asked to pretend to be Santa Claus next weekend for several kids’ parties. I offered to be Santa – no pretending involved. When I get in that fat red suit, I go all “method actor” and forget who I really am. I need to pick up a little more income to help balance my books, so this should be fun.

In 2004 and 2005, I dressed as Santa for about 30 classes. I had to ride bikes, trains, and buses all over the prefecture to get to the classes. (Not to mention a lot of running between rice paddies and such.) I feel it is critical that the costume not be donned at the site, because kids are sharp enough to connect the dots, “Hey, you look just like Santa… hey, where did Santa go?” , so I had to travel around in costume a lot.

Trains proved to be the most fun; although, some folks thought I could be arrested for being a nut-job. I always wonder if I should be nervous living in a country where most folks think it is OK to arrest someone who is odd. Anyhow, I would get furtive glances from folks before they finally worked up the nerve to approach me; which was like a dam bursting, because everyone else figured it was OK then. I made sure to research my birth date and location and personal history. The list of questions about me was amusing. Let’s see if I can recall a few:

  • Is that beard fake? (more on this later)
  • How did you come here? By sleigh pulled by reindeer.
  • Where are your reindeer now?/Can I see your reindeer? Well, it was too hot for them here, so I parked them on Mt. Ontake and came to Mie by train.
  • If it is too hot, how will you come on Christmas Eve? At midnight it should be around freezing which will be fine for the reindeer.
  • Where do you live? Well, I moved from what is now Turkey to the North Pole.
  • Why do we send our letters to Santa in Norway/Greenland/Alaska/…? Oh, I have no postal service at the North Pole and those locations are the most convenient offices.
  • Why do you speak Japanese so well? I have a lot of free time after Christmas and I have interest in languages. I feel communication is a valuable tool in reducing international conflict.
  • Why do you speak with a Kansai accent? I love the Chubu area and travel around here often. (Almost everyday, actually.)
  • What other languages can you speak? Well, I can speak English and Japanese fairly well, and I can speak a little French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Greek, Dutch, Norwegian, …

Ironically, when I mentioned to one passenger that I knew a little Norwegian, she pulled out a novel and asked if I could help her translate it into Japanese. That was quite a surprise.

The second year, in order to avoid the inevitable beard questions, I grew my beard out for three months or so. While my beard has been getting whiter, it is not sufficient for Santa duty, so I researched and tested products and procedures, finally settling on something called Hair Mascara. It took awhile to apply to a long beard, but the effect was perfect. The same product could handle the eyebrows too.

I loved the young ladies who wanted to get a photo with me so they could prove to their friends that they met the real Santa.

10 Responses to “Being Santa”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    What a wonderful story! Sounds like being Santa in Japan has a bit of a dangerous edge to it to make it more exciting. But what great questions you get! Please report back about how the kids’ parties go.

  2. Sylvia Says:

    Come on, everyone knows Santa lives in CANADA. He even has his own postal code: H0H 0H0.

    Sounds to me like Japanese people should spend a week in New York to get desensitized to weirdness. I’ve never been myself but I’ve heard stories.

  3. びっくり Says:

    Sylvia – I understand the HOH part of the postal code, but the OHO sounds like someone made a mistake. Definitely there is a lot of odd behavior in NYC. I remember riding a cab up Park Ave about 3 in the morning and a man in a nice suit was standing in the street. His knickers were around his ankles and he was yelling something at us and thrusting his hips (oh, and the weather was clearly cold.) Does that qualify as weird?

    Stefanie – I’ll definitely mention the kids’ parties after the fun.

  4. Sylvia Says:

    Our postal codes are letter-number-letter-space-number-letter-number. Those are zeros, not o’s, but as you see it works out nicely when you put it all together. That proves Santa lives in Canada.

  5. びっくり Says:

    Sylvia, I got the H0H0H0 bit. I just think it is funny that a little change in our logical division leaves an opposite feeling 0H0H. Why is it that Canada has the 6 character number-letter-number letter-number-letter format? It seems harder to remember than a string of 5 digits like we use in the states. (Although, it works out good for Santa.)

    Today my students told me that the men dressed as Santa would be picking up garbage on Fridays and Saturdays. They were sure to notify all the schools that these men were not “suspicious persons”. I just think that is a bit silly, they’re not wearing ski masks or carrying fake guns. I love the fact that I am a bit eccentric, but I can see it will end me in jail someday. 🙂

  6. Sylvia Says:

    I don’t know why we use letters and numbers. Thinking ahead, I suppose–there are more possible combinations than with just numbers. We won’t ever need a suffix like some addresses in the US. Each province has its own first letter, so there are really only 5 characters that vary. And it’s harder to make simple transposition errors if you know there have to be alternate letters and numbers. I guess we are just used to it. And it does give the opportunity for mnemonics. Like the CBC in Vancouver is V6B 4A2: Vacuum six basements, four attics too.

  7. びっくり Says:

    The mere fact that there are 6 characters instead of 5 dramatically increases the codes. I figure you have about 17 and a half million possibilities to our 100,000. I like the idea that each province has it’s own initial letter; although our ZIP codes increase from East to West, there is no quick indication of which state a number is for. Also, the reduced odds of transposing errors is excellent. (Oh, I did a little research. The American system started July 1, 1963 and the Canadian system was announced in 1971.)

    The American system was changed from 5 digits to 9 (or 5+4 or ZIP+4 as they like to say) a long time ago in 1983 but, being stubborn Americans, we keep refusing to use it. At some point they insisted they would refuse to deliver mail without the proper 9 digits, but that has never happened. We were also supposed to go metric in 1976. All business mail comes with proper 5+4 codes, but I haven’t seen any human use it in years.

    I wouldn’t want to be a janitor at CBC. 😉 I prefer V1B-4R2: vacuum one basement, four rooms too. Seems like a lot less effort, but I wonder if it is a real place.

    Oh, for the record, Japan uses a 7 digit code, like: 514-0047 (that’s mine)

  8. Sylvia Says:

    Oh, let’s not get into phone numbers!

  9. Blogs and Links « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] more link I wanted to show, but it slipped my mind. It is late and I have a long day tomorrow and a busy weekend, so it will have to […]

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