How is Christmas Celebrated in Japan?

  • When you find yourself in Japan around December, depending on your religion or family traditions you might want to celebrate Christmas in Japan. Though the way it’s celebrated seems similar to the Western way on the surface, Christmas is actually celebrated quite differently here. Get to know more about the Japanese way, and try to find the style that works best for you!

    Illumination and Decoration

    Japanese retail outlets, many public places and even some parks and outdoor locations will get you perfectly in the mood for some Jingle Bells and Silent Night. Christmas Songs and jingles are played everywhere, many places are decorated with Christmas trees and wreaths, garlands, and some private homes even have entryways with a beautifully illuminated decor. In Japan they know well how to please the eye and use poinsettia flowers, delicate ornaments and Christmas lights to help you get a real Christmas wonderland feeling. Whether you are single or coupled up, you will not be able to escape the Christmas mood in Japan!

    Christmas Day for Kids

    Though in the West Christmas is originally a holiday to be celebrated with family, relatives and close friends, in Japan it is a bit different. On Christmas Day many parents hold a ‘Christmas party’ for their kids: the little ones wear party hats and a Christmas cake is eaten. Due to it being strawberry season and the red color of the strawberries matching the Christmas theme perfectly, strawberry shortcake is usually the Christmas cake everyone eats. Children get presents from ‘Santa’ and that is it! Eating chicken (as a substitute to turkey) is all the rage, and it seems that Colonel Sanders of KFC has become a Santa stand-in. At Christmas day, the lines for KFC’s special chicken are very long!

    A romantic time for couples

    For young couples, Christmas often doesn’t mean being together with the (extended) family: instead they usually have a romantic date and spend the day together. The dim lights, illumination and cheerful music is the perfect setting to get into a loving mood. Presents are of course highly anticipated and exchanged. Giving presents to family members and friends however is not common at all, though times are changing and with foreign influence this custom will no doubt soon be embraced just like the Christmas trees and decorations were decades ago.