Japanese Christmas Carols

Nastassia Goldberg is a reserved 20-year-old Ashland native. She's an act-together girl with a groovy haircut, reminiscent of characters in "Naruto," a Japanese cartoon.

She's otaku: She digs anime.

Goldberg says that otaku refers to fans of Japanese culture, anime in particular. Anime is a Japanese-style of animation. American audiences got their first taste of it in the mid-1960s with the cartoon "Speed Racer."

"I think that they are more real than, like, the Disney movies. The backgrounds are so much better," Goldberg said of anime. "I also thought they were so cute."

Goldberg draws anime-style and has named her cats in Japanese, Mizu (water) and Mochi (a type of rice-cake). The cats are sometimes found in the anime section of CD Or Not CD, where Goldberg works. The anime section is just a couple of shelves. Really good anime can be difficult to find, she said.

Goldberg once found a copy of "Doraemon," about a robot-cat, at the local Goodwill. Said Goldberg, "It's in Japanese, so I can't understand it, but it's really good."

Goldberg has gone a step further to meet fellow otaku and to spread the Christmas message — by playing and singing Christmas songs in Japanese. Her father, Lenny Goldberg, of CD Or Not CD, had a hand in the situation.

"Me and my dad were talking one day, listening to some Japanese Christmas music," said Goldberg, "and he thought that doing caroling was a pretty good idea."

According to Lenny Goldberg, about 1 percent of Japan is Christian, but they "love Christmas." Christmas is a big event in Japan, from music to the giving of presents.

"I think I read that it started after World War II," said Goldberg. "Now it's a holiday for young people, for romance and stuff, they give gifts to each other."

Goldberg has parlayed this interest to the internet. She sports her own internet-station on live365.com, which plays seven hours of Japanese music, including Christmas songs. The station is mostly all Japanese, all the time, and about half of it is Christmas songs.

"One year, I ran into a CD (of Japanese Christmas songs) and liked it," said Goldberg. "The next year, I got more, and had enough to put on my station."

Goldberg said that she never really got into "American pop," but likes classical, especially pieces for guitar, recorder or piano. Like many of her generation, she isn't into her father's music, which is often played in the store.

"I don't really like my father's doo-wop," said Goldberg. "I guess I'm a little picky."

Although she doesn't speak Japanese, Goldberg did take a Japanese class while at Ashland High School.

"The class taught me enough to be able to read basic Japanese," said Goldberg, "which has been really helpful."

Goldberg noted that Japanese does lend itself to the singing of Christmas songs.

"It sounds pretty much the same, but I don't really know what it says," said Goldberg.

Goldberg particularly likes: "Oh, Holy Night," "Silver Bells," and a bunch of others."

The idea of singing Christmas carols with others is a new idea for Goldberg, hoping to meet others with otaku interests. Since this is the first year, Goldberg hasn't advertised it much, but feels that people would be interested, even if it doesn't happen until next year.

"People like to sing carols," said Goldberg, "so they might like trying to sing them in a different language."

One person who has sung with her is her mother, Diana Goldberg.

"I tried it (singing) a couple of times," said Diana Goldberg. "She sings louder and I just follow along."

Diana Goldberg is a fan of the internet station, and she does have some favorites, although she's not sure of which ones. Her daughter has to remind her of her favorites.

Other than just enjoying the anime and the music, Goldberg has an altruistic motive behind all of this.

"Christmas is my favorite time of year, and it's so wonderful that they (the Japanese people) celebrate it," said Goldberg, "even though they aren't Christian. It's like a starting point to spread the Christmas message and culture."

Goldberg hopes to get a group together and sing in the downtown retail district.

Meri Kurisumasu, shiawase shin-nen! (Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!)

Nastassia Goldberg's internet-station can be found at www.live 365.com/stations/currythecat.

She is employed at CD or not CD on N. Main Street.

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