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What is a popular Christmas tradition in Japan?


Christmas is a festive season celebrated worldwide. While most countries have their unique traditions, Japan also has its own way of commemorating this holiday. In this article, we will delve into Japan’s popular Christmas tradition.

History of Christmas in Japan

The prevalence of Christianity in Japan is relatively low compared to other countries. Hence, Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan. Initially, it was celebrated by only a small percentage of people who were mostly Christians. However, over the years, it has become a commercial event, and people from all walks of life celebrate it.

Japanese Snack Box

Preparation for Christmas in Japan

Just like in other countries, Christmas preparations start early in Japan. People decorate their houses and streets with colorful lights and ornaments. They also buy gifts for their loved ones, which they usually exchange on Christmas day.

KFC’s Fried Chicken Tradition

In Japan, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has become synonymous with Christmas. It is believed that this tradition was started by foreigners who could not find turkey during Christmas. Since then, KFC has been promoting its fried chicken as the perfect meal for the festive season, and many Japanese people now order KFC for their Christmas dinner.

Christmas Cake

Another popular tradition during Christmas in Japan is eating a Christmas cake. These cakes are usually decorated with frosting, strawberries, and whipped cream. Japanese people usually order their cakes from shops or bakeries weeks before Christmas day.

Christmas Illuminations

Christmas illuminations are a must-see attraction during the festive season in Japan. Many places, such as parks, temples, and shopping malls, decorate their surroundings with beautiful lights and ornaments.

Christmas Markets

Japan’s Christmas markets are becoming increasingly popular every year. Here, you can find various goods such as festive decorations, sweets, and hot drinks.

Charity Events during Christmas

Christmas is also a time to give back to society in Japan. Many charity events are held throughout the country during the festive season to help those in need.

Christmas Eve as a Romantic Date Night

In Japan, Christmas Eve is considered more romantic than Christmas day. Couples usually spend this night together exchanging gifts and enjoying a romantic dinner.

The Role of Santa Claus

Santa Claus is also prevalent during the festive season in Japan. Many shopping malls and stores hire actors to play Santa Claus to entertain children and take pictures with them.

The End of Year Celebration

In addition to celebrating Christmas, Japanese people also celebrate the end of the year. This celebration called “Omisoka” is held on December 31st and involves various traditions such as cleaning homes and temples to welcome the new year.

New Year Celebrations

New Year’s Day is one of the most important holidays in Japan. People usually visit shrines or temples to pray for good luck and health in the new year.


In conclusion, while Christmas may not be a national holiday in Japan, it is still celebrated with enthusiasm and joy. From eating KFC fried chicken to enjoying illuminations and spending time with family and friends, there are many ways to enjoy this festive season in Japan.

What Christmas traditions does Japan have?

In Japan, Christmas is seen more as a time for spreading joy rather than a religious holiday. The focus is on Christmas Eve, which is regarded as a romantic occasion where couples exchange gifts and spend time together.

Is Christmas a popular holiday in Japan?

Because Christmas is not a recognized national holiday in Japan, there are typically fewer crowds and less crowded hotels during this time. It is a great opportunity to visit Japan and see the stunning “illuminations” and markets throughout the country. While Christmas is not considered a religious holiday in Japan, it is still celebrated as a time for families to come together.

What is Santa called in Japan?

Santa Claus is called “santa-san” in Japan, and there is also another gift-giving figure named Hoteiosho, who is a Buddhist god of good luck and not specifically associated with Christmas.

How is Christmas different in Japan?

In Japan, Christmas Eve is the main celebration instead of Christmas Day, unlike in the United States. Japanese people usually mark the occasion by going on romantic dates or hosting casual Christmas parties. Chicken is a common food choice during this time, with many people opting for popular fried chicken offerings.

What is Japan’s biggest holiday?

The New Year Celebrations, known as ‘Shogatsu’, are highly significant in Japan, and it is common for women and girls to dress in elegant kimono attire to mark the occasion.

How do you say Merry Christmas in Japan?

On December 14, 2017, a greeting of “Merry Christmas” was given in Japanese as “メリークリスマス!” which sounds like “Merīkurisumasu!”

Virtual Christmas Celebrations

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in Japan are opting for virtual Christmas celebrations. Companies and organizations are holding online parties and events to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. Families and friends are also using video conferencing platforms to connect with each other during the festive season.

Christmas in Anime and Manga

Christmas is also a popular theme in Japanese anime and manga. Many anime series and manga have Christmas-themed episodes or storylines, showcasing the unique way the Japanese celebrate this holiday.

Christmas Wrapping Culture

In Japan, gift wrapping is taken seriously, especially during Christmas. Many department stores and shops offer gift wrapping services, and some people spend hours wrapping their gifts beautifully to show their appreciation for the recipient.

Christmas Music

Christmas music is also prevalent during the festive season in Japan. Many stores and restaurants play Christmas-themed music, and some Japanese artists release special Christmas albums.

Unique Christmas Decorations

While many countries have their own unique Christmas decorations, Japan has its own distinct style. Japanese-style decorations often feature cute characters like Hello Kitty and Pikachu, as well as traditional Japanese motifs like cranes and cherry blossoms.

Snowy Christmas

In some parts of Japan, especially in the northern regions, it snows during Christmas. This creates a magical atmosphere that adds to the festive spirit of the season.

New Year’s Resolutions

Just like in many other countries, making New Year’s resolutions is a common practice in Japan. People set goals for themselves for the upcoming year, such as improving their health or learning a new skill.

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