Christmas in Japan, a Non-Christian Country

In Japan, there are many Shintoists and Buddhists. Christians are said to be only about 1% of the population. However, Christmas is a big event in Japan. After Halloween, the streets and stores are decorated with Christmas decorations, and Christmas songs are played in the stores. Let’s take a look at how Japanese people generally spend Christmas!

Is Christmas Eve more important than Christmas Day?

Yes! In Japan, Christmas Eve refers to the entire day of December 24th. Just keep in mind that everything I’m about to tell you below is about December 24th because people put a lot of importance on this day, even more than the 25th.

Is Christmas for couples?

In Japan, there is a deep-rooted idea that Christmas is to be spent with (romantic) partners. As children, we spend Christmas with our families or friends, but as grown-ups, those with partners spend Christmas with them or their spouses, and those who don’t have partners spend it with their friends.

Sometimes people call it “クリぼっち” (kuri-bocchi) if they have no plans or people to spend Christmas with, abbreviating “クリスマス (“Christmas”) + ひとりぼっち (“loneliness”)”.

A classic Christmas dinner at home is…

In Japan, Christmas dinner at home means Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Christmas cakes!

There are so many people who eat KFC on Christmas. People pre-order the chickens around Christmas time. There are a variety of special combos for Christmas. Due to the influence of Kentucky Fried Chicken, convenience stores and other fried chicken shops have also started to sell fried chicken for Christmas parties.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shortage of imported chicken during October and November because many stores secured chicken for Christmas.

Christmas cakes are also a classic item of Christmas.

Is Santa Claus coming to Japan, too?

Santa Claus comes to Japanese children, too. They usually get presents from Santa Claus until they are about 10 years old, and after that, they get presents from their parents. (Shhh!)

In Japan, there are very few houses with chimneys, but for some reason, many families properly have Santa Claus come every year. Santa Claus, who comes to Japan, leaves presents by the pillow while the children are sleeping.

In Japan, friends and lovers send gifts to each other, but they don’t pile them up under the Christmas tree. They simply hand the gifts to each other. There is no custom of keeping them unopened until Christmas morning. There is also no custom of wrapping the gifts by ourselves.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or not, we hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Holiday!

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