Christmas in Japan; eat fried chicken and spend time with lovers

Most Japanese don’t believe in God deeply, but they have weddings in Christian churches and have funerals in Buddhist temples. They are not Christian, but they celebrate Christmas in unique ways.

Roppongi

In Japan, Christmas is a romantic event rather than a religious holiday. Christmas Eve is the most romantic day for couples to show their love. They have dates watching beautiful illuminations and eating dinners at fancy restaurants. Most of them eat fried chicken and Christmas cakes. They exchange Christmas presents with each other and spend time together at night. Christmas Eve is said to be a “sexual night” because lovers spend the night together. In Japanese, “holy night” and “sexual night” are pronounced the same. (“聖なる夜” and ”性なる夜” is the same pronounce, “sei naru yoru.”)

Roppongi

For families, Christmas is also a special day. They often eat fried chicken at home, so KFC is full of customers around Christmas. They also eat Christmas cakes, especially strawberry sponge cakes. Children believe in Santa Claus and look forward to receiving Christmas presents.

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Why did Christmas in Japan become a romantic day for couples? Why do Japanese people eat fried chicken and cakes at Christmas?

Simply, the reason is that it is good for business. It is said that department stores began Christmas sales around 1900. Shops urged people to buy Christmas presents and celebrate Christmas. Since 1922, Fujiya cake shops began to sell Christmas cakes and people tended to eat strawberry shortcake at Christmas.

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In 1970, Kentucky Fried Chicken came to Japan. It was not popular in Japan at first. A foreigner said to the staff of KFC, “In Japan it is difficult to eat turkey, so I will eat fried chicken at Christmas.” Then the staff decided to advertise the idea of eating fried chicken at Christmas. Since 1974, KFC has had Christmas campaigns every year.

Koenji

Koenji

It is speculated that Christmas is a couples day in Japan because of the bubble economy in the 1980s and media. In the 1980s, Christmas songs were recorded and are still played nowadays. Yumi Matsutoya, also known by the nickname Yuming, sang “Koibito ga Santa Claus (My baby Santa Claus).” Tatsuro Yamashita sang about a man’s feeling lonely while waiting for his lover on “Christmas Eve.” “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey and “Last Christmas” by Wham! are also played around Christmas.


When you come to Japan around Christmas, you can spend a Japanese-style and wired Christmas. How about going to see illuminations and lovers? Lovers gather to see illuminations in Roppongi, Marunouchi, Odaiba, and Minatomirai.

Roppongi

Roppongi

In Roppongi, along Keyaki Street in front of Roppongi Hills, there are illuminations. In Tokyo Midtown, there is a beautiful garden illumination.

Roppongi

In Marunouchi around JR Tokyo Station there are beautiful illuminations. Tokyo Station is all lit up.

Marunouchi

Marunouchi

In Odaiba and in Minatomirai there are also illuminations. You can see lovers hugging and kissing each other there.

Odaiba

Odaiba

When you eat dinner in Japan at Christmas, don’t go to KFC or Mos Burger. Both places are crowded with people who want to eat fried chicken.

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Love hotels are also crowed with couples on Christmas Eve. No one is praying to God, they just want to make love!

Odaiba

Because of all this, Christmas in Japan is a hard time for singles. “Kakumeiteki Hi-mote Domei” (革命的非モテ同盟, Revolutionary Losers’s League), a group of men who are unsuccessful with women, march against Christmas in Shibuya every year before Christmas. They think singles are overly discriminated against at Christmas and march shouting, “Smash Christmas!”

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