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How do Japanese celebrate Christmas?

| Posted Dec. 25, 2020 | General Information
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Christmas in Japan?

Christmas has come! How would you like to celebrate it while you are in Japan? Most of countries celebrate Christmas as it’s a christian holiday, this is not the exact reason why Japanese celebrate it. Rather than being religious, Japanese celebrate it as a holiday without specific meaning. Christmas is more like a time to enjoy and an escape from busy day time. During this time, many of them may prefer to choose to stay with their partners, which is a bit different from other countries. What do they actually do during Christmas and why do they do those things? In this article, we are going to talk about it and hope you can have a clearer image of Japanese Christmas.

➀Iluminations can be seen everywhere during this period.

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When you walk on streets during this period, you can definitely feel be surrounded by romantic illuminations. Illuminations in winter are actually not because of Christmas but now they are connected closely to each other.

So why are illuminations always in winter?

The first reason is that the sunset is earlier this time, therefore we can have a longer time to enjoy illuminations. The second reason is that illuminations are more beautiful in winter, which is the same reason with that stars can be seen more clearly in winter. Since the air current is stable, impurities such as dust from the ground do not mix into the air . Also because the air is dry, there are few particles of water vapor in the air. There is little temperature difference between day and night, the fluctuation of the atmosphere is small so the lights are brighter and can be seen more clearly.

On the other hand, what about the origin of illumination?

It can be traced back to 16th century, when a German named Martin Luther, the center of Religious Revolution, walking in the forest and got startled with stars in sky. He came up with the idea of decorating candles on branches of trees to reproduce the scene. However, nowadays we use electronics to produce illumination and this idea is actually originated from Thomas Edison. To advertise his invention of light bulbs, he decorated his laboratory surroundings with them. This is considered to be the origin of modern illumination nowadays. Although the idea first came from a business thought, it’s now a more romantic appliance right now.

Below is some of the recommended illumination spots for 2020:

  • Tokyo → Marunouchi Illumination, Tokyo Midtown (Roppongi), Shinjuku Winter Illumination, Caretta Shiodome, Country Farm Tokyo German Village, Tokyo Dome City.
  • Kanagawa → Sagamiko Illumillion
  • Osaka → Midosuji Illumination, Hikari Renaissance
  • Nagoya → Nabana No Sato
  • Kobe → Luminaire
  • Tochigi → Ashikaga Flower Fantasy

 

②Japanese eat KFC during Christmas?

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The next interesting celebration way for Japanese christmas is that many families buy KFC to celebrate Christmas. The needs for fried chicken in Christmas is really a lot, it is said that many American fast food restaurants start to receive orders since November. So, why do Japanese eat fried chicken during this period, it actually can be traced back to 40 years ago when a foreigner visited KFC and said something about Christmas. It was a story happened in one KFC in aoyama, when a foreign customer visited the store and said that as there’s no turkey in Japan, he would prefer to celebrate Christmas with KFC.

This made a salesman in KFC thought and came up with a idea that “クリスマスにはケンタッキー(Christmas is KFC)”. Since then, KFC started Christmas campaign about it and it has already lasted for 40 years. Therefore, no wonder why the image of eating KFC is so strong in Japan. The first Christmas campaign was on 1st, December, 1974 and the idea was thought out by Takeshi Okawara, who was the manager of one of KFC restaurants and then the CEO of KFC. This has actually turn into one of "Japan's culture" and you can see the chain restaurant start opening a pre-order system from October-November each year.

 

③Christmas cake in Japan.

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It’s normal to eat Christmas cake during Christmas. However, the type of Christmas cake is a bit different in different places. In Europe or America, during Christmas people mostly eat fruit assorted cake. While in Japan, people eat sponge-based strawberry cakes. This can be traced back to Fujiya in 1922 when they started a catch copy with “クリスマスにケーキを食べよう!(Eat cake in Christmas)” and started to sell cream decorated cake at the same time. Unlike the traditional fruit cake eaten in other countries, the cake sold by Fujiya was decorated with Christmas motifs including sugar candy Santa with strawberries.

It was a luxury at that time so many normal people couldn’t afford it. However, until 1970s, every family in Japan has become already used to the custom of eating Christmas cake. Nowadays, people are not only limited to strawberry cake, chocolate cakes, fruit cakes or ice cream cakes can also be seen on Japanese tables during this period. However, the flavor of strawberry cake of Fujiya must be the most unforgettable taste in every Japanese family.

 

Lastly ....

Nowadays, Christmas in Japan is not just a holiday from overseas, it’s already a holiday with Japanese culture inside. Except for things above, you can also see Japanese own Christmas culture like Japanese Christmas pop songs or Japanese animation episodes with the theme of Christmas. If you are in Japan during Christmas, let’s try celebrate it with a Japanese style! 

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