KFC and City Stars

Our first Christmas together we spent in your home of Hakone. I was transfixed by the beauty of where you grew up with Mt. Komagatake as a backdrop to Mt. Fuji and the lapping clarity of Lake Ashi. To my vast amusement, I discovered Colonel Sanders was Father Christmas’ main man and that Christmas dinners were KFC – the commercials on TV with Japanese “Victorian” skaters and builders of snow men, green wreaths, reindeer – I watched hypnotized and wanting to laugh aloud at the incongruous but cheerful visions dancing outside of my head, but I didn’t want to be insulting. It was a great relief to see your full lips twisted in a wry grin and your eyes sparkling with impish delight. “I’ll have to use some connections”, you said, “it is too late to order now. Most people would have ordered their dinners by the end of October.” Yes, KFC is a big deal dinner! Specially decorated buckets, meals with elaborate cakes and bottles of wine or sake – and when we went to pick up our dinner on Christmas eve, we stood in line for an hour waiting our turn.

Families and groups of single friends happy and laughing, anticipating. Inside the KFC – a bar with red and green flashing lights and a bartender in a Santa cap! A lifesize Colonel Sanders figure with a Santa cap and a wreath of silk holly around his neck! I stood gaping at the tables of families digging into the buckets pulling out special plates with the date and under that, layers of chicken, cole slaw, tossed salad, mashed potatoes, Christmas cake, bottle of sake – like an endless treasure box. I hadn’t had that sense of delight since the first time I walked into Studio 54. It was just as surreal too.

We snagged our bucket and walked home in the crisp evening. In heavy coats we sat in your garden and wolfed our way through the chicken – you going for the dark meat, me going for the light. And it tasted exactly the same! We passed the bottle of surprisingly good sake between the two of us as we ate. Totally sated with food and wine, we lay in the gravel of your karesansui and made “snow” angels, laughing at each other, our laughter carrying through the clear mountain air. I lay there looking up into the stars twinkling over Japan. You leaned over to touch my face and then kissed me, both of our faces greasy and salty. “Come and look at the city stars, beloved.” You pulled me up and we walked to the edge of your property looking down over the city. I was silenced by the beauty of the lights below me – the colors, the shapes, glittering like a huge gaudy brooch for earth. And then I looked back up at the night sky, Mt. Fuji in the distance blocking out a space of black. I fell in love with stars, yet again. Several meteors streaked to earth – I wept for such beauty that would never again be seen, in that same way.

flaming stars outshine
earthly stars and fall from
the sky – meteor snow


public domain photo - Tokyo from Mt. Dodairi

public domain photo – Tokyo from Mt. Dodairi

Another submission, a haibun, for dVerse Poets Pub prompt on Stars.  Come visit us and read these lovely seasonal poems – from the Star that led the Magi to the Stars to which we now boldly go.  http://dversepoets.com/2015/12/15/tonis-title-pending/


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 02:32:05

    You’ve walked in and grabbed my heart.


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 03:17:33

    Such beauty never to be seen again.. there are these moments that will be so unique we cannot ever reproduce them… and many times they age well in our memories as old wine… becoming even better… (which is the best of things).


  3. MarinaSofia
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 04:15:00

    Such beautiful memories there – I’m glad you shared that memory of KFC – what a unique way to celebrate Christmas…


  4. Sumana Roy
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 04:38:56

    thank you for sharing such magical moments that only happens once in a lifetime…


  5. Sarah
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 05:38:13

    Beautiful. I love how the WordPress snow enhances the effect. 🙂


  6. Mary
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 08:40:10

    What a beautiful scene you have painted with your words, Toni. I sense that this love still lives strongly within your heart in the present. (Smiles) Somehow the idea of KFC at Christmas sounds incongruous with the occasion. (LOL) But perhaps with Mt. Fuji as a backdrop it would be palatable. Memory of such once-in-a-lifetime beauty is something to savor forever.


  7. Sanaa Rizvi
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 09:04:42

    Such a heartwarming read 🙂


  8. whimsygizmo
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 12:33:15

    OH!!! “meteor snow” — how perfect.


  9. Bodhirose
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 13:00:37

    I wouldn’t have believed it either unless I had seen it with my own eyes! I never in a million years would have guessed that KFC was THE Christmas dinner to be had. I love your stories of your time in Japan and seeing it through (the stars in) your eyes. Lovely, Toni.


  10. lillian
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 16:33:14

    I was not aware of the KFC tradition in Japan. I’ve had a good number of friends who order take-out Chinese food on Christmas Eve….but I don’t believe they’d paint the picture in this lovely way. This was truly a special time for you.
    PS: How in the world did you get WP to snow??


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 16, 2015 @ 17:37:06

      If you do an image search on KFC Japan Christmas on google, you will pull up hundreds of images! This goes beyond ordering Chinese or Burger King or whatever on Christmas eve. Colonel Sanders is a cult figure in Japan – all shops have full sized figures of him decorated for the appropriate seasons. It is truly a major Christmas event that began in the mid 70’s. LOL, it is truly amazing. Snow: go on your dashboard and go to Settings. Under General, by Snow, click the option on. If you leave it on, it will snow until 01/04 and start up every 12/01. I’ve had the snow going since 2011. I miss it when it stops.


  11. Grace
    Dec 16, 2015 @ 19:09:18

    Now I am remembering my own memories of having KFC bucket for the family, smiles ~ Love the personal story, the conversation, the beauty of night with Mt Fuji and meteors ~ Enjoyed the haibun very much Toni 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 16, 2015 @ 22:41:57

      I am so glad. I had one of those Japanese buckets I had saved for years. When we moved into this house, my husband made me throw it away. He felt so badly, at Christmas, he said he would be responsible for Christmas Eve dinner. he brought home a bucket of KFC and had decorated the bucket with Christmas stickers! What a guy. I remember when KFC was “created” – it was so different and more exotic than home fried chicken. Now, I pick home fried every time! I am glad you enjoyed this.


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