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Updated: Oct 27

Since there are few Christians in the country, Japanese are mostly Shinto or Buddhist, few of the religious connotations associated with Christmas were brought over from the West, they’ve adopted Christmas in their own way.

For a finger-lickin’ good Christmas Eve, the Japanese eat KFC. An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families tuck into KFC every Christmas, but these aren’t ordinary bargain buckets. The Japanese KFC Christmas buckets are delicious dinners with whole-roasted chicken, sides, cake and wine. This somewhat bizarre tradition is born from the fact that in Japan, turkeys are hard to find and ovens are very small. However, chickens are a good substitute. A savvy marketing manager of KFC in Japan realized this and came up with the concept in the 1970’s of ‘Kentucky for Christmas’, and it took off.

In Japan at Christmas, you’ll also notice that many bakeries have beautiful Christmas cakes. These cakes are traditionally Japanese-style strawberry shortcakes. Japanese-style shortcakes are less sweet, topped with light whipped cream and strawberries. The cake represents Japan’s rise from the ruins of World War II and its prosperity. The red of the strawberries and white of the cream are the same colors as the Japanese flag.

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This epic colossus, half man, half mountain, was erected in the late 1500s by renowned Italian sculptor Giambologna as a symbol of Italy’s rugged Appenine mountains. This mountain god, fittingly named Appennino, stand 35 feet tall over the ground of the Villa di Pratolino in Tuscany.

The rugged, mountainous statue hides a wonderful secret – his interior hides several rooms with different functions that made this colossus come to life. The monster that his left hand holds spewed water from an underground stream, and it is rumored that space in his head was made for a fireplace which, when lit, would blow smoke out of his nostrils.

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The Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens home to Australia’s oldest and most famous hedge maze in Shoreham, Australia. In addition, a beautiful circular rose maze, and the year-round flowering Lavender Labyrinth, all set among 25 acres of world acclaimed gardens.

The traditional hedge Maze is planted with more than 1000 cypress trees and thousands of meters of pathways. Now more than three meters high and two meters thick. One of the most interesting features of the Ashcombe Hedge Maze is how it is maintained – there are no string lines or straight edges used in trim so the overall effect is very organic. The constant trimming ensures that the juvenile lime green soft foliage of the cypress features all year round. The Mazekeeper and his team of gardeners cut the hedge 3 or 4 times a year using electric hedge trimmers, ladders & stilts. You cannot cut a hedge in the rain or in the heat, and each load of hedge trimmings has to be loaded into the wheelbarrow and pushed through the maze to get out! It’s a big job — each time taking about a month to finish the task!

The challenge of the Ashcombe Hedge Maze is to find each of the four mosaic flags in the two halves of the maze. The task takes you through hundreds of meters of winding paths in the South Maze through to the Centre Garden – then you tackle the North Maze. While not overly complicated it does take a little while to make your way through. Each half of the maze has a totally different layout, so any tricks you worked out while making your way through the first part, mean absolutely nothing in the other!

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