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It’s that time of year again, whether you love them or hate them, the shops have long begun blaring Christmas carols while people scramble to buy last-minute gifts for friends and loved ones. Over the years, Christmas has become a universal celebration- after all, who doesn’t love giving and receiving presents?
Christmas is unmistakably a western holiday, but Japan, being a nation that just loves any holiday, is on board the Christmas train. On every street in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, ornaments, wreaths, and plastic trees hang everywhere- you’ll even find jolly decorations inside convenience stores. The Christmas sales and carols are very much the same as everywhere else too, but it wouldn’t be Japan without a little twist!
Here are some strange ways Japan celebrates Christmas that you might not know about.
Spending Christmas without family can be a lonely experience for those of us who associate the holiday with being together with loved ones. However in Japan, Christmas is largely thought of as a day for couples. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear someone say they’re looking for a date just for Christmas day. For many young singles, to spend it with family almost seems like a fallback, so in a way it’s almost the complete opposite!
A popular place for couples to go during this time is none other than Tokyo Disneyland. Aside from that, restaurants in the city will usually be booked out for Christmas night.
It wouldn’t look like Christmas in Japan without fairy lights, and we mean it when we say there’s fairy lights everywhere. Forget basic strung-up lights though, these fairy light displays are often extremely elaborate and artistic, and many people will travel just to see them.
Known as illuminations locally, places such as malls, theme parks, and tourist attractions will advertise their displays of the year in order to draw in a crowd. They’re often so wonderful that pictures hardly do them justice, you’ll have to see it to believe it!
For many families, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a bucket of KFC as the centerpiece on their dining table. It isn’t very typical for the Japanese to get an entire bucket of chicken any other day, so it does feel like a special occasion. As for the reason, there isn’t one other than extremely clever marketing by the fast food chain many years ago. The campaign was so effective that even now, local KFC branches take reservations in advance for their special Christmas combo.
Why stop at birthdays, when Christmas is a great excuse to eat cake? Another item on the dinner table is what is generally called a “Christmas Cake” but is usually a light and fluffy strawberry shortcake with cream and themed decorations.
Japanese cakes are often spongy and light, which goes great with a meal as heavy as fried chicken. Strawberries are also in season during winter so it really is the perfect dessert!
If you love strawberries, you’ll love our strawberry collection! link here
Christmas in western countries is usually marked by an extended holiday to allow plenty of time to spend with family. In Japan however, if you haven’t made plans to spend the occasion with someone, then Christmas is just like any other day of the year. For companies, it’s business as usual until the New Year holidays, and every shop stays open.
There are many ways in which cultures around the world spend Christmas, and there’s something beautiful about how one holiday can have multiple interpretations. Whether you’re spending the holiday season with family, a significant other, friends, or on your own, we hope it’s a celebration of love, happiness, and cheer!
Still looking for that perfect seasonal gift for yourself or a loved one? We think we have something you’ll like!
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!