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Before anyone had a chance to shrug off their beach sandals and pack away their tank tops to make room for long-sleeved shirts and jackets, the Seibu flagship department store in Ikebukuro Station announced that it would start taking reservations for osechi ryōri — traditional Japanese New Year’s Day food — on Sept. 21.

The 21st of September. No joke, that’s the earliest starting date ever — and a 17-day difference from last year. The Halloween decorations were barely up and most department stores had only just started advertising Christmas cakes. Seibu Ikebukuro seemed to have skipped two commercially important holidays and jumped right into 2014 with a prominent display on the food floor of the store featuring dozens and dozens of lacquer and wooden boxes crammed with colorful New Year’s delicacies.

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