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What is the Japanese version of Christmas?


Christmas is a holiday celebrated annually in many countries worldwide, and Japan is no exception. However, the Japanese version of Christmas is different from the Western version. In Japan, Christmas is not a national holiday, and it is celebrated differently. In this article, we will discuss the Japanese version of Christmas.

History of Christmas in Japan

The history of Christmas in Japan dates back to the 16th century when Christian missionaries arrived in the country. However, the holiday did not gain popularity until the 20th century when it became commercialized. Today, Christmas is a secular holiday celebrated by many people in Japan.

Japanese Snack Box

How Christmas is Celebrated in Japan?

In Japan, Christmas is not a religious holiday but a time for fun and celebration. People decorate their homes with lights, ornaments, and trees just like in the West. However, the traditional Japanese decoration for Christmas is the bamboo tree called “Furin Kazan,” which symbolizes strength and resilience.

Christmas Food in Japan

One of the most popular Christmas foods in Japan is fried chicken from KFC. This tradition began in the 1970s after a successful marketing campaign by KFC. Other popular foods include Christmas cake, which is usually a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream.

Christmas Gifts in Japan

In Japan, gift-giving during Christmas is not as prevalent as it is in Western countries. Instead, people usually exchange gifts on New Year’s Day, which is a more significant holiday in Japan.

Christmas Eve in Japan

Christmas Eve is considered a romantic day in Japan. Couples often go out for dinner or spend time together. It is also common for people to attend Christmas parties with friends or colleagues.

Christmas Illuminations

One of the highlights of the Japanese version of Christmas is the illuminations or light displays that can be found throughout the country. These displays are often elaborate and attract many visitors who come to see them.

Christmas Music in Japan

In Japan, Christmas music is played everywhere during the holiday season. Although some traditional carols are played, most of the music played during this time is J-pop or Western pop songs translated into Japanese.

Christmas Traditions in Schools

In Japanese schools, students often participate in Christmas-themed activities such as making decorations or performing plays. These activities help to teach students about different cultures and holidays.

The Future of Christmas in Japan

Although Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, it has become an essential part of Japanese culture. As globalization continues to influence Japan and its traditions evolve, it will be interesting to see how this holiday adapts and changes over time.

Criticism of Commercialization

Despite its popularity, some people criticize the commercialization of Christmas in Japan. They argue that it has become too focused on consumerism instead of its original meaning.


In conclusion, the Japanese version of Christmas may differ from what we know in the West, but it still holds significant cultural importance for many people. From food to decorations to romantic traditions and illuminations, there are many unique aspects of how Christmas is celebrated in Japan that make it special.

What is Shinto Christmas?

The primary religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shinto, so Christmas is mostly observed for commercial and entertainment purposes. Christmas Eve is typically the day when Japanese parents exchange gifts with their children, rather than on Christmas Day itself.

How do you say Merry Christmas in Japan?

On December 14, 2017, a message was sent out wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, or “Merīkurisumasu” in Japanese.

Do Japanese celebrate Christmas on 24th or 25th?

Although Christmas in Japan is not traditionally a major holiday, it is still linked to romantic love. On the evening of December 24th, young Japanese couples often celebrate by expressing their affections, exchanging presents, and potentially spending the night in a love hotel.

Is Japanese Christmas religious?

In Japan, Christmas is not necessarily seen as a religious holiday, but rather a seasonal event. Many stores decorate with Santa Claus images, as well as Christmas trees and stars.

What is the Buddhist Christmas?

During spring, Buddhists around the world celebrate Vesak, which commemorates the birth, death, and enlightenment of Buddha. This occasion is celebrated with various traditions such as paper lanterns, gift-giving, and the symbolic bathing of a baby Buddha statue.

Who is Santa known as in Japan?

When Christmas is celebrated in Japan, Hotei is often compared to the Western figure of Santa Claus. He is portrayed as having eyes on the back of his head, allowing him to constantly monitor the behavior of children and decide whether they deserve gifts. This is a common depiction of Hotei during the holiday season.

Religious Significance of Christmas in Japan

Although Christmas is not a religious holiday in Japan, some Christians in the country still celebrate it as a significant religious event. Church services are held, and people attend mass to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Traditions in Different Regions of Japan

Different regions of Japan have their own unique Christmas traditions. For example, in Hokkaido, people celebrate “White Illumination,” where the city is decorated with white lights to create a snowy winter wonderland. In Kobe, they have a light festival called “Luminarie,” which features elaborate light displays.

Christmas Charity in Japan

Charity is an essential part of Christmas in Japan. Many organizations and individuals participate in charity events during the holiday season to help those in need. For example, some restaurants offer free Christmas meals to the homeless or donate a portion of their profits to charity.

Christmas Eve as a Workday

Unlike in the West, where Christmas Eve is usually a day off work, it is a regular workday in Japan. Many people still have to work on Christmas Day as well, which means that celebrations are often limited to the evening or weekends.

The Influence of Western Culture on Japanese Christmas

The commercialization of Christmas in Japan can be attributed to the influence of Western culture. As more and more Japanese people travel abroad and experience Western-style Christmas celebrations, they bring back those traditions to Japan and incorporate them into their own celebrations.


In conclusion, the Japanese version of Christmas may not be the same as what we know in the West, but it is still a special time for many people in the country. From unique decorations and food to romantic traditions and charity events, there are many aspects of Japanese Christmas that make it stand out. As globalization continues to influence Japanese culture, it will be interesting to see how this holiday evolves over time while still retaining its cultural significance.

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