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There were shades of Santa’s workshop across monocle’s editorial floor as this issue, our 129th, prepared to ship to our presses in Wittingen, Germany. In a far corner of the office the books team were already in planning mode for Christmas 2020, coming up with titles for release this time next year. A few desks away the radio team were hard at work with the Zürich bureau on a series of live events (more on that below), fine tuning the Christmas music line-up and preparing for a trip to Los Angeles.

At the centre of the office, creative director Richard Spencer Powell was tweaking final layouts for this issue, reviewing designs for window displays and invites, and getting sample covers ready for our upcoming seasonal newspapers. And, across the aisle, Andrew Tuck was marshalling his team of editorial elves to think about stories for THE FORECAST (on sale from 28 November) and Winter Weekly newspapers, while reminding everyone that they also have a February issue to deliver before the Christmas break.

Nine timezones away, Fiona Wilson, Junichi Toyofuku and Kenji Hall dashed in and out of our Tokyo bureau to deliver the bulk of this special edition devoted to Japan. With support from Nolan Giles and Chiara Rimella – and a clutch of trusted freelancers – they have delivered more than 140 pages focusing on the best that Japan has to offer in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics. As Japan has long played a special role in the monocle story, we have delivered a deep take on the people, places, brands and a particular bear (see page 59) that make Japan a soft-power superpower.

Our year-end issue is also home to our annual index on leaders in the soft-power stakes. You’ll note that we’ve slightly tweaked the format this year and given special attention to the specific forces and players that help nations appear more attractive on the world stage. Elsewhere there are plenty of ideas for stuffing stockings, laying out a good spread or planning a long weekender or two.

On the topic of weekends – and keeping things festive – we have a couple of dates for your diary. If you’ve managed to get this issue early enough, mark 30 November and 1 December in the diary: that’s when we’ll be hosting the Mitteleuropean edition of The Monocle Christmas Market at our Zürich HQ. We’ve lined up solid Swiss and international brands to assist with your shopping list; there will also be plenty of baked treats, potent beverages and good tunes from early until late.

If you want to say hello to your favourite voices from Monocle 24, the crew will be on hand to broadcast a special series of weekend programmes from our Dufourstrasse digs. On 5 December we’ll be hosting a mini-market at Trunk Hotel in Tokyo’s Shibuya to celebrate the launch of this issue and the season in general. If you’re not a subscriber, nor on the mailing list, sign-up up at monocle.com/subscribe so we can ensure you get the details for what promises to be the start of a Japanese Christmas tradition.

The following weekend – 7 and 8 December – Midori House plays host to our main Christmas event, The Monocle Christmas Market, complete with reindeer and other beasts from the manger, a Swedish choir, Santa (all the way from Finland), lavender-toting Nancy from Wales and raclette courtesy of the Swiss embassy. If you need any help with accommodation in London, or other tips, feel free to drop us a note at info@monocle.com. Should you be unable to make it to any of these events, our colleagues in Los Angeles, Merano, Milan, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Toronto will be offering Christmas cheer at our shops. (Friends of Merano manager Linda Egger should note that she’ll be appearing in Zürich and London.)

As I tap this out on a Cathay Dragon flight from Chengdu to Hong Kong (thank you to those who made the journey to western China for our Cities Series event), we’re putting the finishing touches to our line-up of new launches and projects for 2020. For more on that, pick up the forecast, where we’ll give you a snapshot of what’s in store. I do hope to see you over the coming weeks for a bullshot (hot bouillon, vodka and Tabasco) or two and a round of raclette. If not, Christmas cards can be sent to Midori House or Dufourstrasse 90. Otherwise, just pop a note to tb@monocle.com. Wishing you all the best for the Christmas season and a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2020. Cheers – and thank you for your support.

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