Black Friday, Japan

Things that make you go, hmm…

Flyer I picked up from a department store

Last week was Thanksgiving in the US, but I live here in Japan and there was hardly any mention of the holiday except from fellow Americans.

However, the big thing that was on people’s minds was Black Friday–which made me go, “Huh?”

Black Friday is such an American thing: Lining up at Walmart, people getting trampled just so they can score the biggest deals. Big shopping carts filled with stuff, pushed by people who just don’t care if they run over your feet. Lines and lines at the registers. Shoppers getting caught up in the rush of spending piles and piles of money.

At least that’s what I recall from the news. I never got caught up in all that craziness–I think. I don’t recall ever getting up so early in the morning just so I can be there when the store opens and be the first one to grab that big-screen TV.

I don’t think I was stupid enough to do that, but I’m not really sure. I was a spender in my youth.

In any case, Black Friday became such a catch word here. I don’t know if it’s just me, but everywhere you looked, there were lots of shopping malls and retail stores advertising their sales for the weekend. Not just Friday, but up to Sunday. And of course, this wasn’t limited to just the actual physical shops–online retailers in Japan were just as guilty capitalizing on this sales gimmick.

And that’s what it really is. It’s all a gimmick to get people into the stores to go buy stuff that they don’t need–all in the name of trying to save money.

I did ask some of my Japanese friends and co-workers what was the meaning behind Black Friday. None of them could tell me why it was so-called. All they said was that they saw it on TV and on the flyers from the shops.

And that’s when you realize the power of advertising–and the consumerist mindset that US influence has on all over the world. Because the idea, and even just the wording, of Black Friday is a big thing in America, a lot of international companies have used it as a way to sell goods.

brown shopping bags
Photo by Kaboompics .com on

None of the more valuable concept of giving thanks transferred over? I mean, that was the basis for it, wasn’t it? Black Friday always happens after the Thanksgiving Holiday, but in Japan, that particular event hasn’t taken hold among the people.

Christmas, though, has been a big part of more modern Japanese culture. Even though this country is mostly Buddhist, the commercial aspect of Christmas has been so popular. People buy Christmas presents for each other. Cake and fried chicken usually experience their biggest booms during this year. Bookings for hotel and restaurant reservations increase. And all this in a country that isn’t even remotely religious, or have ties to Christianity.

I have to shake my head at all this. Like I said, I’m thankful for my very quiet lifestyle. I am so glad I’ve given up the mindless consumption. I like the purposeful intention I have in my daily life. I enjoy the freedom of spending my time and money the way I want to–with friends and family, or just by myself in quiet introspection. I enjoy sitting in the warmth and comfort of my own home–away from the crowds of crazy shoppers.

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