Christmas in Japan

Today, all about Christmas in Japan.

Christmas in Japan

Christmas is celebrated in Japan, but it is a bit different from the West. It’s more secular, for starters, as there are few Christians in Japan. Christmas Eve is considered a prime date night, the most romantic day of the year. Many jpop Christmas songs, in fact, sing of this: romance on Christmas Eve night. Love hotels and regular hotels alike do lots of business on this day. Restaurants are also packed with couples celebrating the special day.

These days many Japanese parents tell their kids about Santa-san and Japanese boys and girls get presents. I don’t know if they do naught/nice lists here and try to scare their kids into behaving like we do in the States, but a lot of kids do write letters to Santa with their wish lists. Some parents try to fight this trend of giving Christmas presents because kids also get money for New Years1 but they seem to be failing.

There is also Christmas Cake: a special decorated cake for the holiday. It is usually covered with strawberries, which are special bred to be ripe and red just in time for this season.

Last but not least, there is Christmas Chicken! This tradition was started by KFC in 1974 with their クリスマスには、ケンタッキー! (“Kentucky for Christmas!2“) campaign which was incredibly successful. The story goes: Around 1973 an expat went into a local KFC on Christmas and ordered a bucket of chicken, remarking as he left that it was the next best thing to turkey, which was unavailable in Japan at the time. The manager of this store passed the story onto his boss and it eventually made its way to the corporate office where they decided to make the Christmas Chicken campaign the next year, playing towards the Japanese love of holiday themed foods. Since that event, Christmas Chicken has been the traditional main food for Christmas. Weird, huh?3

Daily Photo: Our Secret Meeting Place

Another momiji—that is, autumn leaves—photo for today’s daily pic. With increased work these past few weeks and a almost one year old boy, I couldn’t get out this year for any Christmas photos. But the bright red maple leaves are nearly as good, eh?


  1. It’s called otoshidama. I’ll talk about it more in a few days when I write about New Years. 

  2. KFC is commonly known as “Kentucky” in Japan. 

  3. Depending on who you ask, you may be told the only reason it’s a tradition is KFC spends a ton of money each year advertising the heck out of it. 


Publishing this website is my full-time job. If you enjoyed this article or photo, please consider supporting the site by becoming a member. There are some great perks. Read more.