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Christmas In Japan

DaydreamerDetective_2_200x300There’s nothing like researching Christmas in Japan in the middle of summer! Lol. Though Christmas is a Christian holiday, and Japan’s Christian population is only one to two million people (about 1% of the Japanese population), it’s still a fairly popular holiday.

For weeks coming up to Christmas, Tokyo and other big cities really bring out the dazzle! Ginza, a popular high-end shopping district in Tokyo, is usually decorated with bright Christmas lights and displays. Glittering trees line the streets and famous actors and musicians are called upon for tree lighting ceremonies in popular areas of town. There’s no mistaking the economic wonderland of Christmas in Japan, much like Christmas in the United States. People shop for bargains and department stores offer special mystery bags you can buy to give to your loved ones.


Since this holiday is not a religious holiday in Japan, it’s not a national holiday. No one gets it off of work. If you want to celebrate Christmas, you must do it on your own time. Christmas is mostly about spreading love and good cheer, so the holiday is geared towards lovers or children. Christmas Eve is considered a romantic holiday, and restaurants for a cozy dinner on this special evening are usually booked months in advance. Presents are usually exchanged with a stroll down a Christmas lighted street. How romantic!

Kara-age Yukari (16038602820)

Christmas Day itself will be a bit strange to Americans! The day is for giving gifts to children, eating fried chicken (no joke), and strawberry cake. Kentucky Fried Chicken, a chain restaurant from the United States, has a wildly popular Christmas business in Japan. People will line up to get their bucket of fried chicken on this day and social media is often filled with photos of people eating fried chicken on Christmas! The traditional cake that’s eaten on this day is a layered vanilla sponge cake with white frosting and strawberries, usually both inside and on top. Bakeries battle it out for the best Christmas cake, but you can pick yours up from a 7-Eleven if you like.

When Christmas is over, the lights come down, and Japan moves on fairly quickly. While we in America may keep our lights and decorations up for a week or two more, Japan instead turns towards its most austere holiday, New Year’s Day, which has a richer, more diverse set of traditions to celebrate and enjoy. If you’re interested in learning more about New Year’s in Japan, check out this post!

7 thoughts on “Christmas In Japan”

  1. That is so interesting about KFC. I find your posts about Japanese traditions fascinating. I finished The Daydreamer Detective Braves Winter and loved it. I posted a review on Goodreads. I hope there will be more in this series.

    1. I really wonder about the KFC connection. Like how did that really start? Not sure, but they love fried chicken on Christmas! I’m so glad you enjoyed Daydreamer 2! And yes, there’ll be more in the series. I have 5 planned so far and I’m currently writing #3!

  2. It’s so interesting to see how Christmas is celebrated in other countries. The light always look so pretty! I have seen a few anime’s with a Christmas scene and I always enjoyed seeing how it was celebrated there.
    I never heard fo the fried chicken on Christmas though, that’s interesting. I wonder how that tradition ever started. And yum that Christmas cake sounds delicious!

    1. The lights in Japan around Christmas are absolutely GORGEOUS! The last time I was there was right around Thanksgiving time here in the states, so the end of November, and they already had lights up there. It was like a wonderland! Really lovely.

      I have literally NO idea why fried chicken is so big there on Christmas day, but yes, the Christmas strawberry cake is a real winner. Super delicious!

  3. I LOVE this post and have to show it to my son immediately. I had no idea that people in Japan celebrated Christmas at all, but the fact that they celebrate with fried chicken is kind of hysterical. Love it!!

      1. Right? It’s completely strange. I also think it’s also a little weird that it’s not about family unless you have small kids. It’s more of a lover’s holiday.

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S. J. Pajonas