’Tis the Season to be Jolly: What to Expect at Christmas in Japan

  • All around the world one of the largest and most popular holidays in numerous countries is, of course, Christmas! But what is the festive season like when you are in Japan?

    Most of Japan’s population aren’t Christian so unlike countries such as England or the United States, Christmas isn’t a national holiday. Therefore, for a lot of Japanese people, they unfortunately still have to go to work or school as normal on Christmas day. However, there is still loads going on around Christmas time.


    For the kids, many elements of Christmas are the same for them, despite their winter school breaks often starting after December 25th. Santa Claus is just as well known here as he is in western countries and he doesn’t forget the Japanese children when he makes his yearly rounds!


    Christmas dinner is fairly different in Japan, though. The most commonly thought of foods if you talk about Christmas in Japan are fried chicken and cake!

    You won’t find many turkey dinners on Christmas day unless you go to a foreign-themed bar instead. Apparently due to a largely successful advertising campaign by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) years ago, everyone in Japan associates Christmas dinner with fried chicken and will order their Christmas KFC weeks or months in advance!


    The other food for Christmas in Japan is cake, for lots of people the only way they’ll celebrate is by eating cake, from September onwards the convenience stores all have their Christmas catalogues of cake and chicken so you reserve yours to be ready on the day!

    Date Night

    If you go out on Christmas eve you will see couples having a romantic night out everywhere, one Japanese friend told me he used to like Christmas but not anymore because he’s single now!

    Don’t worry though if you look around there’s plenty of Christmas cheer to be had, even if you’re single! Most cities will have illuminations and Christmas trees and some, such as Osaka will have traditional German Christmas markets!

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