Japan’s Take On: Christmas

Fried chicken
If you’re reading this in America, there’s a good chance you’re simply enjoying a few moments away from the family. If you’re not celebrating Christmas, chances are your school/work is closed anyway, so enjoy the day off.

In Japan? Business as usual. Trains running on time, businesses open, and so forth. Nothing’s really special about the day, except what you have for dinner.

While the west focuses on children for Christmas and couples share New Year’s together, things are reversed in Tokyo. Couples share a gift on Christmas, while festivals and celebrations are held on New Year’s Day for the whole family.

There is one surprising thing about Christmas in Japan: Sanders beats Santa.


Yes, I mean the Colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Since the early 1970′s (due to an immensely popular advertising plan), “Kentucky = Christmas” to Japan. With pre-ordered buckets of chicken, cake, and champagne, couples (and down the road, married couples with a child) will enjoy 11 herbs and spices. Forget eggnog, a Christmas Turkey, and milk and cookies left out overnight; fried chicken reigns supreme.

America’s fascination with Santa Claus can largely be tracked back to Coca-Cola advertising. Valentine’s Day is always criticized as a “Hallmark Holiday”. Is it any surprise that Colonel Sanders could be associated with Christmas in Japan? With only a tiny fraction of Japanese Christian, it’s a day to eat more than a day to celebrate.