The cashiers at grocery stores are wearing Santa hats, fake snowmen are decorating homes (a few, anyway) and Christmas lights are starting to twinkle around town. Yes, it's December in Japan and people are ordering up their Christmas cakes (that seems to be the result of someone's excellent marketing abilities). But the holiday is just one of the many things going on this month. Here's the line-up so far:All-Japan Karate Championship, Dec. 7-8
Get your kicks, literally, at the All-Japan Karate Championship at the Tokyo Budokan Hall on Dec. 7-8.
Access and Address: Kudanshita Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozaisen line. Cost: 2,000 yen, or about $20, for both days.Kyoto's Prayers for Better Sewing, Dec. 8
Sometimes putting this calendar together is like looking for a needle in a haystack; it's hard to find the right events. But this one just poked right out at me: It's a memorial service for needles at Kyoto's Kokuzo Horin Temple. Basically, you go there with your sewing needle to pray for better sewing skills and happiness for your family. Yes, there will be sake there -- but is it really a good idea to mix needles and alcohol? The event is from 1 to 2 p.m.
Access: Take the Kyoto City Bus #28 to Arashiyama Koen; Phone: 075-861-0069.Osaka's Light Festival, Dec. 15-25
Osaka will literally light up with its winter Festival of Light that will decorate Osaka City Hall to Nakanoshima Park and Kensaki with vibrant yellow, white, pink and blue illuminations.
Access: Go to Yodoyabashi station, Kitahama station, Naniwabashi station or Oebashi station.Sale Fest in Tokyo, Dec. 15
The Setagaya Boro-ichi fair is about to keep up its 430 years of tradition in Tokyo this Dec. 15 and 16 and Jan. 15 and 16. About 700 vendors will sell yummies, trinkets, toys, plants, antiques, clothing and more.
Access and Address: Click here.Tokyo's Hagoita Fair, Dec. 17-19
Have you been naughty or nice? If you've been bad, stay away from this one: Several vendors selling ornamental wooden paddles get together at the Hagoita Fair at Sensoji Temple in Tokyo's Asakusa area. OK, no one will really be getting spanked, but the paddles -- often decorated with celebrities' mugs and kabuki performers -- are for kids to play with to whack away evil.
Address: Sensoji Temple, 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku.
Baby Metal Rocks Tokyo, Dec. 21
Japan has been criticized for lagging in job opportunities for women. But, apparently the gap has been closed when it comes to women in rock. See how the band Baby Metal is an equal-opportunity destroyer of every last bit of your eardrums with their screeching electric guitars, pounding drums, and confusion-inducing lyrics. The thrashers play Tokyo's Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex on Dec. 21 at 3 p.m. Tickets: 5,800 yen, or about $58.
Access: Click here for directions; 2-1, Nakase, Mihama-ku, Chiba, 261-0023; Phone: 43-296-0001.Osaka's International House Friendship Party, Dec. 22
Connect with others in Osaka at this get-together at the Osaka International House.
Access: Take the subway to Shitenojimae Yuhigaoka station or Tanimachi 9-chome station. Costs 3,000 yen for adults and 2,000 yen for kids.