Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP - Getty Images, file
Trainees get lessons at the Santa Claus Academy in November last year.
TOKYO — Magic tricks and straight answers are all part of being Santa in Japan — at least according to Tokyo's Santa Claus Academy, which trains St. Nicks in a country with little Christmas tradition.
On a recent weekend, 88 Santa wannabes packed the school in Tokyo's fashionable Roppongi district for a crash course in how to behave as "Santa-san," as the man in red is known in Japan.
"There are many children who don't believe in Santa Claus anymore," said Masaki Azuma, head of the school. "So I said to myself, 'Let's bring Santa Claus back.'"
The morning session began with Azuma training students in the mindset of being Santa Claus, such as not to reply to anything unless addressed as "Santa-san," along with teaching them magic tricks, which Azuma recommends as a good ice-breaker for often shy tots.
The rest of the session was devoted to answering the difficult questions that children have a habit of posing, such as "My house doesn't have a chimney and we also have a security system, so how will you be able to come in and deliver my present?"
The academy's answer is that Santa, whose job is to deliver presents no matter what, will find a way. Also, the home security system should recognize him and let him in.
Despite nearing 70, Azuma has vowed to press on with his school, believing it has a key role to fulfill.
"Even as times change, Santa Claus is a figure that needs to live in the hearts of everyone," he said.
More world stories from NBC News:
- Arafat's body exhumed; experts to investigate if he was poisoned
- ANALYSIS: Israeli defense chief quits politics — but for how long?
- Video: Anders Breivik walks from exploding van in Oslo
- Egypt's Morsi, top judges compromise to defuse soaring tensions over decree
- As battle raged in Syria, Russia sent tons of cash to Damascus, records show
- Fire at German facility for disabled kills 14
- More than 100 killed in Bangladesh factory fire
- Scientists rush to save manta rays, the 'pandas of the ocean'
Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.