What’s Christmas Like in Japan?


Each December, Christmas is celebrated by people in countries all over the world, and Japan is no exception! While it isn’t a national holiday in Japan, since only about 1 percent of the whole population in Japan is Christian, it’s still felt throughout the country.Many of the Christmas customs seen in western countries can also be found in Japan, but often reimagined in a different way than you may expect.

If you are visiting before the New Year in Japan, you will find many things traditionally associated with Christmas: decorations, Christmas markets, and magnificent lights. You can also discover a few unique Japanese traditions with numerous charms that can and should be appreciated in their own right.

Japan Christmas Cake

The Japanese Christmas cake or “kurisumasu keki” is sold on practically every street corner in Japan. This dessert is light and spongy with whipped cream filling and frosting, topped with perfectly cut deep red strawberries.

This beloved, and delicious, Christmas treat, very popular for birthdays too, is also seen as a symbol of prosperity

KFC: Japan’s biggest Christmas meal

Every Christmas, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families get their holiday meal from none other than Kentucky Fried Chicken. Somehow this tradition is one of the most sacred and one that really embodies the Japanese Christmas spirit.

The demand is so high that people start placing their orders for the special Christmas menu six weeks in advance. And the wait in line on Christmas day is so long that it takes hours for people to get their meal.

A Holiday for Lovers?

In Japan, Christmas Eve tends to be a holiday for couples, along the same lines as Valentine’s Day. Young couples often exchange gifts and book dinners at romantic restaurants. If you want to dine out, be sure to make reservations early since many places book up.

Christmas Illuminations

Since people in major cities tend to live in small apartments, individual Christmas decorations and Christmas trees are rare. Not to worry, however! Most larger cities have stunning public illuminations to get you in the festive spirit.