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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogChristmas in Japan; Weird or Cool?

Christmas in Japan; Weird or Cool?

Marie MooreMarie Moore
Published Time
Posted on 
December 18, 2018
Modified Time
Updated last 
June 21, 2022

Many people make the assumption that Japan either celebrates Christmas the same way as their home country, or they don't celebrate it at all. But actually, neither is true! Japan has developed its very own unique way of celebrating Christmas. And no, don't worry it doesn't involve eating bugs! There aren't many Christians in Japan, so for the Japanese Christmas isn't at all associated with Christianity, and many people in Japan don't actually know it's a celebration of Jesus's birthday!

Christmas is… a couples holiday?

Yup that's right, one of the most shocking things people find about Japanese Christmas is that it's a couple orientated holiday instead of being for families! On Christmas Eve you'll see a host of couples out on dates at Japanese theme parks and illuminations. For some reason, Japan likes to treat Christmas eve like Valentines day, and hearing single Japanese people complaining about wanting a boyfriend/girlfriend by Christmas is not uncommon.

That being said, Japan is particularly obsessed with illuminations in winter, and you'll find a ton of Christmas themed illuminations across Japan from as early as November! Plenty of family and friends go to see illuminations, so don't feel you have to go with a partner to see them! The Tokyo Disney Resorts are also brilliantly festive starting in November, so it's well worth a visit to the parks~

Instead of Christmas dinner they eat… KFC?

Another thing people find shocking is instead of the traditional Christmas meal (which consists of roast turkey for UK people!) Japanese people eat KFC! Why? You may ask. It's because back in the 1970's KFC started a Christmas campaign in Japan which was so successful it transformed KFC into the choice Christmas food for the Japanese, with KFC restaurants taking Christmas meal orders up to 6 weeks in advance, and people queuing for hours on Christmas just to get theirs! There's even been some speculation that it's due to Colonel Sanders resemblance to Santa himself, but we're not sure how much truth there is to that.

Another traditional Christmas food in Japan is Strawberry Shortcake! We're sure you've tried Strawberry Shortcake Japanese candy before, as we've included it in our Japanese snack crate in the past! But it's just a fluffy sponge with cream and of course lots of strawberries. Not only is it considered the Christmas cake in Japan, it's also popular for birthdays too! Better than that stodgy old fruit cake that most European countries eat at Christmas!

However, despite these seemingly strange Christmas traditions in Japan a familiar tradition has been gaining traction here in recent years… German Christmas Markets! They've been popping up all over the country lately, with familiar comforts such as mulled wine and stalls selling Christmas ornaments.

One last shocker… Christmas isn't a public holiday in Japan!

That's right. Christmas is just a normal day in Japan. People go to school, work, etc! Whereas Christmas is the most important public holiday for many countries, in Japan New Years takes that spot! New Years is the time Japanese people get together with their families and eat special food called Osechi Ryori and have vacation from work and school, as well as children receiving money gifts or 'Otoshidama'.

Source: 1, 2, 3

What do you think of Japan's Christmas traditions? Are they similar to your own countries? Let us know in the comments!

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