Japanese Way: A traditional Twist

We pride ourselves in having a wide diversification of American citizens from all over the world. English, German, African and Irish are among the most popular ancestry line. This holiday season let us include another forgotten culture of people that has been in our land since 1868. Quiet and subdued, but also hoping for a better life for the future of their children, the Japanese are rarely spoken of or even acknowledged as American citizens.


Traveling by boat across the wide Pacific Ocean and landing on the island of Hawaii and also, what is now the state of California, the Japanese migrants came looking for work in the sugar cane fields of prosperous plantation owners. Between 1886 and 1911, over 400,000 Japanese had set out for America in search of a better life.

Our nation was not accepting to this new and different race of people. The Japanese were considered non-white and despised by most settlers, and the government. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt forced the San Francisco School Board to allow Japanese students attendance in public schools in exchange for the “Gentleman’s Agreement” with the United States. This agreement stated that Japan would only allow the most educated of Japanese to come to America, while the laborers and peasants were not welcome.

Angel Island, the West Coast’s mirrored immigration center to Ellis Island on the East Coast, was responsible for allowing passage to Japanese foreigners. It is estimated that over 300,000 Asians arrived at Angel Island and as many as thirty percent were turned away. Compare this time frame of 1910 to 1940 with Ellis Island where over 12 million people arrived and less than two percent were turned away.

World War II brought an even stronger dislike for the Japanese that had moved to the US. Although the Japanese citizens considered the attack of Pearl Harbor a strike against their home, the government did not share their feelings. Every Japanese-American citizen was rounded up, men, women and children, and placed in confinement for 11 years, or until the end of the war. Still, they stayed and considered themselves lucky to be Americans.

On September 11, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced a People-to-People Program that was designed to bring the world closer together. This was the beginning of Sister Cities International.  Over time, this program helped to improve the past differences of war between the United States and Japan. Today, there are 440 American cities that participate with cities in Japan.

How Do Japanese Celebrate Christmas? It might be surprising to learn that the Japanese have a better handle on the Christmas spirit than most Westerners. The frills of decorating, the commercialism of shopping, and the unwrapping of presents on Christmas morning are more or less absent in many Japanese households. Instead, they focus on the joy of being with friends and family and enjoying their company. The traditional dish of the Japanese is the Christmas cake and is enjoyed by all that want to give of their time and joy. However, this dessert is more of a holiday food since the Japanese do not celebrate Christmas as a national holiday.

In recent years, the young people have come to treasure Christmas Eve as a time of celebration, mainly because America does. They dress up in their best clothes and head to the most popular holiday restaurant in town, KFC. Small gifts are exchanged among those dating and this time is considered a celebration of a future life together.

Why not bring a piece of Japanese tradition to your home this year by taking the time to remember what the season is all about. Forget the past and focus on the here and now. Time moves too quickly and a celebration with those that you love is worth more than what a material gift could ever mean. If the Japanese can forgive and embrace their good fortune, so can we.

By Kate Eglan-Garton



Christmas Recipes of Japanese Origin




3-Ingredient Oriental Cheesecake

Never say that there is no room for dessert with this Japanese version of cheesecake. Light and airy, the flavor will tantalize your taste buds without giving you an over-stuffed feeling. Better bring the recipe for the crowd.


1 ½ cups white chopped chocolate

8 ounces cream cheese

6 large eggs, yolks separated


Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Line bottom and sides 8-inch round baking pan with wax paper.

Warm chocolate until melted then stir in cream cheese.

Add egg yolks to the mixture and stir until creamy.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Add a spoonful of egg whites to chocolate mixture and stir until mixed. Fold in remaining egg whites in 2 to 3 sections and fold gently after each addition.

Pour batter into lined pan and place in a larger pan that is filled with water. The water level should come halfway up the sides of the baking pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Turn oven off and let the cake rest inside of the over for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove, cool and transfer to a plate. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

Garnish with fruit, powdered sugar, or chocolate shavings.

More on this dessert by Kareen Liez E. Datoy at: www.hngn.com/articles/113826/20150729/easy-three-ingredient-japanese-cotton-cheesecake-recipe-video.htm.


Japanese Christmas Cake

Japanese Christmas Cake1This is the original version of the Japanese Christmas Cake. Use your imagination with other fruit pieces or decorate the top with traditional Christmas confections.

Ingredients for Cake:

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

¼ tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1 ½  tbsp butter

Ingredients for Whipped Cream:

2 cups heavy cream

4 tbsp sugar

16 whole strawberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with butter or oil.

Whisk together eggs and sugar in medium-sized bowl. Place bowl inside large bowl that is filled halfway with hot water and whisk again.

Sift flour and baking powder together and add to egg mixture.

Melt butter and add to mixture.  Mix all together gently.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 25-35 minutes.

Remove cake and cool on a rack.

Cut the cooled cake in half horizontally. Set aside while making the whipped cream.

Mix cream and sugar together bowl and whip well.

Slice 8 strawberries into thin pieces and mix with ½ of cream mixture.

Spread on center piece of cake and place the top back on.

Spread the remaining whipped cream over the cake and top with remaining whole strawberries.

More on this cake: www.grouprecipes.com/107024/japanese-christmas-cake.html.


Digital print version at: http://www.scribd.com/arttoartpalette

Japanese-A new twist on Christmas - Cover


Published by on November 2015. Filed under AAPJ Digital Prints, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Cupboard Section, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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