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Christmas market in Osaka serves festive German treats

by Eriko Arita

Sipping on hot wine and nibbling on gingerbread, the German Christmas Market in Osaka gives you a taste of how holidays are traditionally spent in Germany.

The Deutscher Weihnachtsmarkt Osaka 2009 (German Christmas Market Osaka 2009) is being held at Wonder Square in Shin Umeda City in Osaka’s Kita Ward until Dec. 26.

Since 2002, this annual event has been a popular seasonal attraction for people living in the Kansai area. Twenty-six wooden shacks, which were brought from Germany, line the market. In the shacks, people sell traditional handicrafts and various Christmas ornaments. Visitors can also enjoy Christmas specialties like Gluhwein, a traditional composition of spices and red wine served steaming hot, and Lebkuchen, traditional German gingerbread. The wine costs ¥900 (including the mug) and the gingerbread is ¥500 or more depending on the size of the bread. Grilled sausage, German potato and soup will also be sold.

Children will love the 115-year-old merry-go-round imported from Germany. It is one of only four wooden merry-go-rounds still in existence in Europe, according to the organizer.

A 27-meter-tall Christmas tree, one of the biggest in the world, will be on display at the market and will be decorated with about 100,000 lights.

If you are lucky, you may also get your picture taken with the German Santa Claus, Heilige Nikolaus.

The event is organized by the German Consulate General of Osaka-Kobe, the city of Osaka, Sekisui House Umeda Operation and various other groups.

Deutscher Weihnachtsmarkt Osaka 2009 is open 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and the national holiday on Dec. 23. Admission is free. Shin Umeda City is a nine-minute-walk from both JR Osaka Station and Umeda Station. For more information, call Sekisui House Umeda Operation at (06) 6440-3901.