How is Christmas celebrated in Japan?

How is Christmas celebrated in Japan?

Japan has a way of uniquely reinventing Western culture and making it their own which is just one aspect I love about the place! 

10 years ago I was lucky enough to spend a Christmas living in Japan and could see how the season is celebrated there. 

Here are some ways Christmas can be enjoyed Japan style!


Kinkakuji Temple in winter snow Kyoto Japan


(Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto)

It may be a bit weird including this (for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere!)  but hear me out... I've lived in Australia my whole life and have had little exposure to snow (esp in December when it's summertime). Every year we experience a hot Christmas so to be able to rug up and see snow in Japan at Christmas time made things extra special! 

The kinds of scenes like the above are very unique to Japan, seeing the Golden Pavilion covered in snow is pretty mind blowing!


(Kobe Luminarie) 

This picture was taken at Kobe Luminarie which is an annual winter light-up held in memory of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 which has run for over 20 years. It was simply breathtaking and had a very festival type atmosphere with markets and food stalls to enjoy too!

Christmas illuminations are held all over Japan with places like Tokyo going all out with displays. 

Such a fun activity to partake in with friends, family or that special someone in your life. 


KFC Japan Christmas


(Photo credit - Time out Tokyo)

Bit of a strange one (and I didn't eat it myself but saw loads of advertising for it!)

In the 1970's a KFC employee had a burst of inspiration and decided to run a campaign to offer a chicken party bucket for Japanese people who wished to enjoy a taste of a traditional Christmas feast (with roast chicken) 

Extremely popular, people order weeks in advance or line up for hours to snap up KFC's Christmas dinner packages. 


Japanese couple on date

This wasn't applicable for me as I am married (ha!)  but many couples choose to go out on a date on Xmas eve as it's seen as a couples holiday in Japan.

Romantic restaurants often offer special Christmas Eve packages and boy golly, they fill up quick!

Gifts are exchanged and no expense is spared for a sophisticated night out. 


Christmas strawberry spongecake Japan

It's very common to get a delicious cream filled Strawberry spongecake to enjoy at Christmas and to understand the significance there's quite an interesting back story to share! 

After Japan’s defeat in World War II, there were food shortages and sugary sweets were a luxury. The American troops who occupied Japan led the effort to help rebuild Japan, and the sweets they would sometimes hand out gave hope for a brighter future.   

As the concept of Christmas came about in the post war years the economy also rebounded and the Christmas cake became a symbol that Japan had finally bounced back. This type of cake was chosen because its red and white colours reflect those in the national flag.

We hope you enjoying learning about some of the different ways Christmas is celebrated in Japan!

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