Christmas in Japan


Christmas is probably the most famous worldwide holiday, especially in the Western world. However, the last few decades has seen it become a lot more widely celebrated in other parts of the world, for example Japan, who pronounce it KURISUMASU.

Christmas isn’t seen as a religious holiday in Japan, due to there not being a strong presence of Christians in Japan. In spite of this, they have started adapting many Western customs in relation to Christmas, such as receiving Christmas cards and presents. It is seen as a time to celebrate happiness, rather than religion and often Christmas Eve is celebrated more than Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve is seen very much as a romantic day in which couples can spend time together and exchange presents and is quite similar to Valentine’s Day in other countries. They will also spend a lot of time make their own beautiful Japanese style pop up cards to give to loved ones.

Christmas Day is not actually a national holiday in Japan, but schools are usually closed on the 25th December. This is partly because the birthday of the Emperor is on the 23rd December and this is a National Holiday, so usually the holiday break will start then, until the new year, but a lot of businesses will see 25th December as a regular working day.

In Japan they do have a ‘Christmas cake’, however it is not a typical fruit cake, but is actually a sponge cake usually, which is decorated with whipped cream and strawberries. Japanese people will also often eat fried chicken on Christmas Day and it is the busiest time of the year for KFC in Japan! The citrus plant and fruit, yuzu is in season from November to January and it can therefore be found in everything, from chocolate to tea and it is very similar to lemon.

In Japan at Christmas you will also find beautiful Christmas festive light displays, in places such as train stations, shopping centres and restaurants. They also have very impressive Christmas markets, which are very popular. This is especially true for the capital Tokyo, and even more so, as Tokyo Disneyland is a very popular place to visit at Christmas and the decorations and parades on show are amazing.

Japanese people take part in many other Christmas traditions that are popular worldwide, such as having decorated Christmas trees within their homes, listening to Christmas music and watching movies together with their friends and families. Even though they do watch Christmas themed movies, they also watched horror films throughout this holiday, something which Japan is well known for and their horror films are some of the scariest in existence.

Japan has now taken on many of the Christmas traditions from the rest of the world, but now also has many of its own. If you are in Japan at Christmas time, a must see is the Osaka castle illumination. The castle is beautiful anyway, but at Christmas time it is transformed into a beautiful 3D illumination, as a celebration of the holiday.

These are just some of the reasons why Christmas in Japan can be one of the most special and unique ever experienced. We definitely recommend anyone who loves the festive season to make the trip and see for yourself.