Christmas in Japan
Have you ever imagined how the Christmas season is celebrated in Japan? Does Japan have a Christmas holiday? Well, Japan does celebrate Christmas, but it does so very differently from how American or Western countries do. The Buddhist religion significantly influences the Japanese population, although only approximately 1% of people identify as Christians.
Christmas in Japan is still a joyous season. There aren't any religious celebrations linked with Christmas in Japan, and it isn't a national holiday. However, many customs and traditions connected with Christmas still exist today, such as the German Christmas market, Christmas lights, Tokyo station winter illuminations, and festive trees in theme parks. There are also a few special Japanese traditions that continue to this day. Read on and discover more about how the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan celebrates Christmas.
Japanese Christmas Traditions and Facts
1. Christmas Eve is for Japanese Couples
Although Christmas Eve is not a recognized holiday, it is more commonly observed in Japan, like Valentine's Day. Couples come together, enjoy Christmas dinner in romantic restaurants, and take in the holiday decorations while exchanging gifts in accordance with the Japanese culture of the first Christmas. It goes without saying that during this season, shopping malls will all actively market romance gifts. Even if you decide not to purchase anything, simply browsing the bright shops can be enjoyable.
2. Japanese Christmas Cakes
In Japan, November and December are when the nation's famed pastry sector showcases its most delicious treats and inventions. Such festive cakes are excellent for experiencing the finest of various cultures, thanks to the widespread incorporation of seasonal Japanese flavors.
The Japanese take on strawberry sponge cake is by far the most well-liked of the several varieties of pastries offered, and some people even regard this delicacy as the one essential Japanese Christmas cake. From Hokkaido to Kyushu, "kurisumasu keki," or Japanese Christmas cake, is marketed virtually everywhere! With whipped cream filling and icing and freshly sliced, deep red strawberries on top, this dish is light and fluffy. There is no clear explanation for this, but it is most likely because the strawberry cakes' colors go well with the current season.
3. Japanese Christmas Traditional Trees
Many large towns have large Christmas trees, but Japanese households are far too small to even fit little ones. The Japanese decorate their homes with miniature Christmas trees and many delicate tree ornaments, but because they are too small to hold gifts underneath, "Japanese Santa" must instead drop gifts on top of sleeping children's pillows. This is one of the most awaited moments that Japanese children enjoy when celebrating Christmas in Japan.
4. Extravagant Christmas Lights
Japan celebrate Christmas with lavish decorations and has embraced illuminations to brighten the brief, dark winter days. Even though the lights are entirely secular, everything is decorated for Christmas. Large festivals are devoted solely to illuminations and light shows, and entire streets are brightly illuminated in blue, green, or red hues.
Tokyo and Osaka, where there are several festivals and Christmas markets, have the most magnificent light displays and illuminations. One of these exhibits is Kobe's Luminaire, created by an Italian and serves as a monument for the Kobe earthquake victims from 1995 and attracts more than three million visitors annually. The Kingdom of Light is another significant holiday light show in Nagasaki. It offers 13 million lights, an LED waterfall, a canal cruise with lights and fountains, and light and music collaborations.
5. Japanese KFC Fried Chicken
Japanese Christmas Eve dinners often feature chicken as the main course, with a sponge cake with cream and strawberries, popularly known as "Christmas cake," as the dessert. It is best to check ahead of time as many restaurants offer these and other special Christmas menu items for takeout or dining in, but many require reservations. The well-known fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is a holiday tradition in Japan. In 1974, KFC ran a successful marketing campaign that led to the current KFC mania.
That said, on Christmas Eve, lines for KFC in major areas can wrap around the block and last for many hours. Although retailers stock up on chicken in large quantities for the evening, they can and do run out. They advise putting an order in advance, whether online or in person. Doing this guarantees your order, and you can use a special express line when you pick it up.
6. Christmas Markets in Japan
Over the holiday season, Christmas markets are becoming increasingly popular in Japan. Through December, there are Christmas markets in almost all major Japanese cities and numerous smaller villages. The Japanese enjoy incorporating foreign traditions into their own throughout Christmas, which is certainly true of the markets. The best Christmas markets are in Tokyo, where you can also discover many German Christmas Markets. Expect to see gingerbread houses, tons of German sausages like bratwursts, and loads of hot mulled wine to ward off the chill. Try the Tokyo Christmas Market with authentic European flair, sponsored by the German Tourism Association.
7. Perfect Christmas Weather
Japanese celebrate Christmas in a chilly December, so if you want to experience true winter weather over the holiday season, here is the place to be. The temperature will decrease as you move further north. In Hokkaido's north, you stand a good possibility of experiencing a snowy Christmas. In Hokkaido, temperatures are really predicted to be much below freezing, and significant snowfall is expected in many areas. Skiing is even an option for Christmas, as these slopes are among the best in the world.
On the other hand, things are warmer but still cool south of Hokkaido. Tokyo has extremely cold temperatures, yet it rarely gets below zero, and the further south you go, the warmer it gets. If you go to the Okinawa islands, where the temperature is still around 20 degrees Celsius, you can have a hot and sunny Christmas if you don't like snow.
8. Celebrating Christmas in Tokyo Disneyland
Theme parks are the only locations in Japan celebrating Christmas with as much color and vigor as hotspots for winter illumination. Major amusement parks like Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan regularly feature special shows, parades, and holiday lighting displays. Many Japanese people, in particular, believe that Disneyland is the happiest place to be on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This theme park offers visitors a joyful and magnificent Christmas in the Disney tradition with fireworks, exclusive goods, candy giveaways, and a special and delectable Christmas meal. Tokyo Disney is a fantastic option for families traveling to Japan for the holidays.
9. Japanese Gift-giving
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some little holiday shopping. Naturally, the focus of such events is frequently the gift exchange. Christmas gifts are common in many Japanese malls, markets, and even online stores.
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