Christmas in Japan

November 13, 2023

It's Christmas!! At SushiSushi we love all things Christmas and the festive period. So here is how Christmas is celebrated in Japan... from KFC and gift giving to Santa Claus and decorations. Christmas in Japan is a unique and fascinating cultural phenomenon. While Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, it is still widely celebrated in a commercial and festive manner! 

Commercial Celebration

In Japan, Christmas is not a religious holiday, as Christianity is a minority religion. Instead, it is largely seen as a commercial and secular celebration, much like Valentine's Day. The festivities are primarily focused on spreading festive cheer and creating opportunities for gift-giving and romantic gestures.


Major cities in Japan, especially Tokyo, are adorned with elaborate Christmas decorations. Streets, shopping malls, and public spaces are illuminated with colourful lights, and large Christmas trees are set up in prominent locations. Illumination events are popular, drawing crowds who come to admire the dazzling light displays. 

KFC Tradition

One of the most unique aspects of Christmas in Japan is the tradition of eating fried chicken from KFC on Christmas Eve. This practice originated from a successful marketing campaign in the 1970s and has become so popular that customers often need to place their orders weeks in advance to secure their holiday chicken.

Cake and Sweets

Another culinary tradition involves eating Christmas cake, which is typically a light sponge cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries. These cakes are beautifully decorated and are often enjoyed on or around Christmas Eve.


While not as elaborate as gift-giving during the New Year's holiday, exchanging presents has become an important part of Christmas in Japan. Gifts are often given between couples, friends, and family members.

Santa Claus

The figure of Santa Claus is recognised in Japan, but his role is somewhat different from Western traditions. Santa is often associated with gift-giving, but Christmas presents are sometimes given by "Santa" on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas morning!

Christian Minority

It's important to note that only a small percentage of the Japanese population identifies as Christian. As a result, the religious aspects of Christmas are not widely observed. Instead, the holiday has been embraced and adapted to fit Japanese culture and customs.

Character-Themed Decorations

Japanese pop culture characters, such as Hello Kitty and Pikachu, often make appearances in Christmas decorations, adding a touch of cuteness to the festive atmosphere. 

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