'What are you doing for Christmas?" asks one of a couple dozen different Japanese friends and co-workers every year, this time of year, most of whom I've answered quite thoroughly in years past. The question is like a foreigner reflex.

"Nothing special," I say. "Grab a bucket of KFC and some strawberry shortcake, maybe go peep some illuminations."

"Nihonjin ni nari-tsutsu-aru, ne" ("You're becoming Japanese") or some variation of that is the usual response. "No Christmas parties?"