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Do Japanese eat KFC on Christmas?


Christmas is a time for family gatherings, exchanging gifts, and enjoying festive food. In many countries, traditional meals are served on Christmas day, but did you know that in Japan, KFC has become a popular choice? This article will explore the history and reasons behind this unique tradition.

The Origins of KFC on Christmas in Japan

The history of KFC on Christmas dates back to 1974 when a group of foreigners living in Japan wanted to celebrate Christmas with turkey. Unable to find any turkey, they settled for KFC instead. The following year, KFC Japan saw an opportunity and launched their first-ever “Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii” (Kentucky for Christmas) campaign, offering a special Christmas meal featuring fried chicken and sides.

Japanese Snack Box

The Popularity of KFC on Christmas in Japan

Since the launch of their Christmas campaign, KFC has become synonymous with the holiday in Japan. Many people pre-order their meals months in advance to avoid the long lines that form outside KFC restaurants on Christmas day. The popularity of KFC on Christmas has even inspired other fast-food chains to offer similar festive meals.

The Marketing Strategy Behind KFC on Christmas in Japan

KFC’s marketing strategy for Christmas in Japan is a prime example of successful localization. They have created a unique tradition that resonates with Japanese culture by incorporating elements such as the color red (which symbolizes good luck in Japan) and packaging their meals in festive boxes.

Traditional Japanese Christmas Foods

While KFC may be the go-to food for many Japanese families on Christmas, there are also traditional dishes that some people still enjoy. These include roasted chicken, cake, and fried noodles.

The Role of Family in Japanese Christmas Celebrations

In Japan, Christmas is not a national holiday, and it is not traditionally a religious holiday either. Instead, it is seen as a time for couples to spend time together or for families to come together and exchange gifts.

The Importance of Gift-Giving in Japanese Culture

Gift-giving is an important part of Japanese culture, and this is no different during the Christmas season. Many people exchange gifts with loved ones and co-workers. In recent years, some companies have even started to give their employees KFC vouchers as a year-end bonus.

The Impact of COVID-19 on KFC’s Christmas Campaign

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on KFC’s Christmas campaign in Japan. With restrictions on large gatherings and travel, many people opted to stay home and order food online. As a result, KFC offered delivery options for the first time ever during their Christmas campaign.

KFC’s Sustainability Efforts in Japan

KFC Japan has taken steps towards sustainability by introducing reusable packaging options and reducing plastic waste. This includes offering reusable drink bottles and utensils as well as using biodegradable materials for packaging.

Criticism of KFC’s Christmas Campaign in Japan

Despite its popularity, KFC’s Christmas campaign in Japan has faced criticism from some who feel that it promotes unhealthy eating habits and consumerism. However, others argue that it has created a unique tradition that brings joy to many families.


KFC’s Christmas campaign in Japan is a testament to the power of successful localization and marketing. It has become a beloved tradition that brings families together and offers a unique twist on the classic holiday meal. While it may not be for everyone, there is no denying the impact that KFC has had on Japanese Christmas celebrations.


Why do Japanese people like KFC at Christmas?

The global KFC website stated in 2020 that the inspiration for their Christmas campaign came from a foreign customer who visited a KFC in Tokyo and expressed that they had no other option but to celebrate Christmas with Kentucky Fried Chicken, as they were unable to find turkey in Japan.

Which country goes to KFC on Christmas Day?

In Japan, waiting three and a half hours for a cooked bird isn’t preferred, so many people opt to eat KFC as a surprising holiday custom that may have originated from a false story. KFC started its ‘Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii!’ campaign in 1974, which translates to ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’

What is the most popular Christmas food in Japan?

According to a recent online survey conducted by a Japanese shopping information site operator, more than 80% of the respondents plan to celebrate Christmas by consuming chicken. Most of the respondents prefer to purchase takeout rather than cooking it themselves. The survey was conducted on December 24, 2022.

What is the No 1 dinner in Japan for Christmas day?

KFC is a popular choice for Christmas dinner in Japan, with approximately 3.6 million families opting for the fast food chain for their holiday meal. This tradition has become an important part of Japanese Christmas culture, symbolizing the holiday spirit for many.

What American food do Japanese eat for Christmas?

KFC chicken has become a popular Christmas tradition in Japan, with around 3.6 million families indulging in the American fast-food chain’s fried chicken during the holiday season. This tradition dates back to the 1970s, when KFC launched its “Kentucky for Christmas” campaign, and continues to be a go-to dinner choice for many Japanese people.

How do you say Merry Christmas in Japan?

On December 14th, 2017, a message was sent wishing everyone a happy holiday season in both English and Japanese, saying “Merry Christmas” and “Merīkurisumasu!”

Alternative Christmas Foods in Japan

While KFC has become a popular option for Christmas in Japan, some people prefer to enjoy other types of food. For example, sushi is a popular choice for those who want a lighter and healthier meal. In recent years, some restaurants have even started to offer Christmas-themed sushi rolls. Additionally, some families choose to cook traditional Japanese dishes like hot pot or tempura for their Christmas meal.

KFC’s Social Responsibility Efforts in Japan

KFC Japan has made efforts to give back to the community through various social responsibility initiatives. One such initiative is their “Streetwise Scholarship” program, which provides financial assistance and mentoring to students from low-income families. KFC Japan also partners with local organizations to provide meals to those in need during the holiday season.

The Future of KFC’s Christmas Campaign in Japan

As KFC’s Christmas campaign in Japan continues to grow in popularity, it will be interesting to see how the company evolves and adapts to changing consumer trends and preferences. With an increased focus on sustainability and health-consciousness, KFC may need to consider offering more nutritious and eco-friendly options in the future.


KFC’s Christmas campaign in Japan has become a unique and beloved tradition that reflects the country’s cultural values and preferences. While some may criticize it as promoting unhealthy eating habits and consumerism, others see it as a fun and festive way to celebrate the holiday season with loved ones. Whatever your opinion may be, there is no denying the impact that KFC has had on Japanese Christmas celebrations.

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