Jesus and Buddha do Christmas in Tokyo I Christmas Curator’s Nook
I'm Nicole Rousmaniere I'm the IFAC
Honda curator of Japanese arts
Welcome to my corner
In 2015 we wanted to do an
exhibition of three generations,
with Tetsuya Chiba, Hoshino YukiNobu and Nakamura Hikaru So we went to meet Nakamura
she was fantastic and she was
very cooperative and in fact she donated
a whole story and she said you can
choose but I would think you should have
Christmas I thought oh! This will be
So with a little trepidation, we
got this fantastic story and we
displayed it and it was really, really good the only
challenge that we had was in translating
her work because she uses really witty
language and witty puns and we wanted to make sure that it worked in English and
there was no English translation up to
You see the family home You see a Christmas dinner
You see a church You see a priest
And he's hearing the confession of this man right here and this man is telling him that he's
jealous We look at it we can actually
see that it's Jesus Then we kind of
flashback to what happened
that morning and we see Buddha and
Buddha and Jesus are together and what's
happening here is that Jesus is leaving
he's a little bit excited, he's a little
bit, you know, it's winter he's got his cap on
and his shades on
and Buddha's wondering what's up
Well, actually it's the 25th of December it's
Jesus's birthday and Jesus wants to see
how he's going to be celebrated in Japan
on his birthday and Buddha is worried
because Buddha knows something else is
going to happen
Jesus goes to a department store and he sees this huge
cake he gets really excited,
he thinks it's for him, and finally Jesus
is realising that all the people around
who are excited on the birthday cake and
the trees it's for Santa Claus
So he's still optimistic he actually
sees someone dressed like Santa Claus
and he calls Buddha to check and he says
"Is this some kind of joke?
Of course they're planning a party for me!"
and then Buddha is getting very very
worried Jesus is saying "Maybe it's just
the residents of Takikawa" where
they're living "have organised some kind
of mega birthday surprise? and you must
have been told to keep quiet about it I
think you're the only one who will let
me in on the secret"
But you see Buddha is getting really
worried Buddha doesn't want Jesus to be
upset or or worried Here she writes
"The self affirmation of the Son of God is as hard as steel"
Jesus is finally coming to terms with
the fact there will be no surprise for
the people but actually Buddha has
lovingly bought him a birthday cake and
Buddha says can you please go to the
patisserie and pick it up So Jesus goes
to the patisserie and he's welcomed by a
woman selling the cakes and he looks and
he sees that they are Christmas cakes in
Japan which means they're all with
Santa decorations! Jesus says
"decorations any other than Santa Claus?"
and she said "yes from this selection are
you looking for anything in particular?"
"I'd kind of like one of me half-naked
and dying they should at least have one of those"
and she's really shocked
you can see the sweat coming down
"Would you really want to put that on a cake? We don't do human figures"
"But Santa's an old man in a red costume in a hat!" Well she says "Well Santa's more like a
mascot and he's chubby and cute" But that
doesn't make Jesus very happy
"So no one will put me on a cake because I'm too skinny?!"
"Why would you want to be on a cake?"
"Okay put all of them on I
will eat them and put on weight I'm feeling pretty sad"
Buddha will be worried about me if he sees me in this state and he walks off
Jesus says right here, remember we start here, he says
"I should chill out somewhere"
Then he goes in and he sees
himself in a church and he says "When I
think of how much worse it was then
feel a little calmer now" and then you
see in the church pew right here
"I came here without thinking" he's saying
"I've avoided churches until now why
today of all days?"
Here he hears from this young boy
"Mum! Today's Jesus birthday isn't it?"
"Ah, surely they're speaking about me this
Jesus is a little happier "But they could
also mean a TV character with the same name"
"That little crib figure of Jesus
at the church entrance that was so cute wasn't it?"
"Jesus was born in a stable" "Blessings to Jesus"
"Thank you Jesus" "Amen"
Jesus, here he is right there, Jesus, Jesus
he's hearing this all the time he says
"I'm happier now but actually I feel
embarrassed! I feel ten times more
embarrassed than when Buddha caught googling myself"
So here he says,
I can't bear it anymore I'm gonna crawl into a hole! Hey, this looks promising!"
and he runs in there and where is it?
It's the confessional! And he runs into the priest
that we saw in the very beginning and
the priest says "So you're feeling
jealous about Santa Claus"
If things go on like this I might act impulsively
and descend to the Vatican and expel Saint
Nicholas so I've come instead to talk to
you Father I know you won't repeat what
you've heard in the confession will you?
Knowing that I can tell you that I am
Jesus Christ" and this priest is saying
"Oh here's a lamb going seriously astray"
He doesn't realise that actually he's
talking to Jesus Christ he says right
here he is playing along and he says
"Thank you for always taking care of us"
and Jesus says "I apologize for being
such a misery"
"No, as you say Christmas in Japan is rather strange"
And the ending of the story is really kind of beautiful,
The priest says
"Someone must be waiting for you" and Jesus says "Yes
there is someone a friend remembered my
birthday and also ordered a cake in an
he'd been preparing tasty food since
early this morning
How silly I am I must rush back to
him" "You have a lovely friends mr Jesus
God will forgive your sins
let us pray together and that you should
hurry home So here they're praying and
"Yes thank you very much" and the priest
says very happily "Yes thanks to God" "Amen and to Buddha!" because that's his roommate
and the priest then gets a little
unhappy he says "Oh he's a Buddhist"
And then we go back to Buddha and Buddha says
"Jesus, is there a message in here?"
and you see all the Santas have fallen
and they've all melted into
to the Christmas cake and it's "just like
King Herod's massacre of the innocence
because he was he feared for his throne
you've killed all the Santa's because
they were more popular!" Jesus says "no no
it's just that I wanted to gain weight
and took too long to bring the cake back
it's not what you think!"
Anyway, that's how Jesus spends his birthday
This is just one story of
many that this chronicles It goes
seasonally it's amazing you go through
January all the different seasons and so
to find more I think you're gonna have
to come to the British Museum
Thank you very much for joining me on our manga
adventure today there are many more
curators that are doing many different
types of adventures through the British
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