Sunday evening I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, an odd-coloured blinking light. Distracted, I turned and saw from the balcony window that it was something flashing from the top of a middle-sized building about half a mile to the south. It looked not unlike an emergency flare (or a chemical fire). The pattern was three slow blinks followed by five quicker blinks. I tried ignoring it, but it was driving me up the wall wondering what it was.
Finally, on the flimsy pretext of going to the supermarket in Abiko to buy frozen peas (they are harder to find than truffles in my neighbourhood), I hopped on my bicycle and headed due south. The light, when I found it, turned out to be the star at the top of a tree made of Christmas lights stretched out on the front of a four-storey apartment building. This photo, taken from the narrow street, doesn’t really do it, er, justice. All I can see from my window is the blinking pink and purple light at the top. That’s quite enough, thanks.
Osaka acquaintances used to laugh at the rubes in the sticks of Nara who decorate their cozy wooden Japanese houses in garishly inappropriate Christmas lights and plastic candy canes. Well, seems they’re not laughing now. And I’ve now seen a few more of this ilk in my neighbourhood; and my other neighbours, in their cozy little Japanese houses, are probably gnashing their teeth in envy.
By the way, the message below the tree reads, not “Merry Christmas”, but “Nakamura Chiropractic Clinic”. Christmas crackers indeed!