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Is Santa popular in Japan?


The introduction will give a brief overview of the article’s topic and introduce the focus topic.

Japan is a country with a rich culture and history, and it is known for its unique traditions and customs. One of the most prominent holidays worldwide is Christmas, which is celebrated in Japan as well. However, the way Christmas is celebrated in Japan differs significantly from Western countries. In this article, we will explore whether Santa Claus is popular in Japan.

Japanese Snack Box

The origins of Santa Claus

Before we explore whether Santa Claus is popular in Japan, it is essential to understand his origins. Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, who was a bishop in the fourth century in what is now Turkey. He was known for his generosity and kindness towards children. Over time, the story of Saint Nicholas evolved into the character we know today as Santa Claus.

Christmas in Japan

Christmas was introduced to Japan in the late 19th century by Christian missionaries. However, it wasn’t until after World War II that Christmas became more widely celebrated in Japan. Today, Christmas in Japan is seen as a romantic holiday rather than a religious one. Couples often exchange gifts and go out for fancy dinners.

Santa’s presence in Japanese culture

In Japan, Santa Claus is known as “Santa Kuroosu,” which is a phonetic translation of his name. However, his appearance and role differ from what we see in Western countries. In Japan, Santa Claus doesn’t come down chimneys to deliver presents. Instead, he is seen more as a symbol of Christmas rather than an actual gift-giver.

The popularity of Christmas in Japan

While Christmas is celebrated in Japan, it isn’t considered a national holiday like it is in Western countries. However, it’s still a significant event on the Japanese calendar. Many Japanese people enjoy decorating their homes with Christmas lights and ornaments.

Christmas traditions in Japan

One unique tradition that has developed in Japan around Christmas time is eating KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). Since many people don’t have ovens at home, KFC has become a popular food choice on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is eating Christmas cake, which is typically a sponge cake with strawberries on top.

The commercialization of Christmas in Japan

In recent years, Christmas has become heavily commercialized in Japan. Retailers often use images of Santa Claus and other symbols of Christmas to promote their products. However, this commercialization has led to concerns that the true meaning of Christmas is being lost.

Santa Claus merchandise in Japan

Despite not playing a significant role in gift-giving during Christmas, Santa Claus merchandise can be found all over Japan during the holiday season. From plush toys to ornaments to costumes for pets, there are plenty of ways to incorporate Santa into your holiday celebrations if you choose to do so.

Santa-themed events in Japan

Many cities throughout Japan hold events during the holiday season that feature Santa Claus. These events range from parades to meet-and-greets with Santa to charity events where people dress up as Santa to raise money for good causes.

The role of anime and manga

Anime and manga play a significant role in Japanese culture, so it’s no surprise that they also play a role during Christmastime. Many anime series have Christmas-themed episodes, and there are numerous manga series centered around Christmas.


In conclusion, while Santa Claus does have a presence during Christmastime in Japan, he isn’t as popular or significant as he is in Western countries. However, that doesn’t mean that the holiday season isn’t celebrated with enthusiasm and joy throughout Japan.


Does Japan believe in Santa Claus?

For the most part, Japanese children believe that if they behave well and are asleep when he comes, Santa Claus will bring them gifts. Some parents learn what their children want for Christmas through conversations, while others may receive letters to Santa from their kids. This was reported on December 18th, 2007.

What is Japan’s version of Santa?

Christmas celebrations in Japan often highlight Hotei as their version of Santa Claus. Hotei is often depicted as having eyes on the back of his head, allowing him to observe children and decide if they are deserving of presents.

How popular is Christmas in Japan?

Despite the fact that Christians make up less than one percent of the population in Japan, Christmas is widely celebrated and popular. Throughout the country, Christmas decorations like trees, ornaments, and lights are put up, and families go shopping in preparation for the holiday, similar to the traditions in the United States.

Does Japan shut down for Christmas?

In Japan, Christmas is not officially recognized as a national holiday, so most stores operate as usual without any adjustments. However, it’s important to note that many stores may close during the New Year’s holiday season.

What do Japanese kids call Santa?

In Japan, Christmas is not primarily a religious celebration but rather a time to spread joy. In Japan, they refer to Santa Claus as ‘Santa-San’, which means Mr. Santa. This cultural difference highlights the unique traditions that exist around the world during the holiday season.

Who gets dressed like Santa in Japan?

In Japan, KFC has transformed the image of Colonel Sanders into a holiday figure known as Colonel Santa. During the month of December, the jolly and bearded character can be seen all over the country, and KFC even dresses up their statues of him in red and white Santa outfits as a promotional effort for the Christmas season.

Christmas and New Year in Japan

It’s worth noting that Christmas and New Year are often celebrated as a single holiday season in Japan, with both holidays being observed in different ways. While Christmas is typically a more romantic holiday, New Year is a more traditional and family-oriented celebration. Many Japanese people will visit Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples to pray for good fortune in the new year. There are also many traditional foods that are eaten during the new year celebrations, such as mochi rice cakes and osechi ryori (a special assortment of dishes eaten during the first few days of the new year).

Santa Claus in Japanese Pop Culture

While Santa Claus may not play as significant a role in Japan’s Christmas celebrations as he does in other countries, he has certainly made his mark on Japanese pop culture. There are many movies, TV shows, and video games that feature Santa Claus or Christmas themes, often with a unique Japanese twist. One popular example is the anime movie “Tokyo Godfathers,” which follows a group of homeless people who find a baby on Christmas Eve and set out to find its parents.

The Future of Christmas in Japan

As with many things in Japan, it’s difficult to predict exactly how Christmas will evolve in the future. However, it’s likely that the holiday will continue to be celebrated in unique and interesting ways that reflect Japan’s own cultural traditions and values. Whether or not Santa Claus remains a prominent figure during Christmastime in Japan remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the holiday season will continue to be an exciting and joyous time for people throughout the country.

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