When I was living in Japan I was set on having a small Christmas tree for my apartment. Most Japanese people are not Christians but due to Western influences some Christmas customs like exchanging presents, particularly between couples on Christmas Eve, have become popular. As a result I was able to find myself a little table top tree with all the trimmings after hunting around for a bit. I found my little set-up at Nittori, which is home goods store kind of like a Japanese version of Ikea. My options were quite limited since the trees were sold as a package set including the lights and decorations, but at least I had a small Christmas tree plus it was a great deal at only ¥999 (about $10 US) for everything.
After taking the tree home and setting it up in the corner of my living room I thought it looked a little plain with just the silver balls and lights since I wasn't so keen on the red bows and garland that also came with my set. After thinking for a bit I decided to make some paper cranes to add to the tree's decorations. Orizuru (折鶴, folded crane) is a classic origami design and the paper cranes are symbols of peace, good fortune and good health among other things. It seemed like the perfect fit for my Christmas tree.
I pulled out a few sheets of red origami paper as well as some special red foil paper that I had and made about a dozen cranes to grace my Christmas tree. I nestled them in the boughs and loved the way they looked incorporating a bit of the Japanese culture from where I was living with my personal tradition of having a Christmas tree.
When I moved back to the US I didn't have unlimited space to ship things back so I got rid of my little Christmas tree but I did save the menagerie of orizuru that I had made for the tree. While my Japanese Christmas tree wasn't the largest or most beautiful of the trees that I have had over the years it is definitely one that has a special place in my heart.