3 Japanese Things to Do During the Christmas Season
Christmas is one of the biggest holidays around the world. Everyone eagerly awaits and prepares for this end of the year celebration. However, in Japan, Christmas is not actually a holiday. Japanese are non-Christian practitioners which explains the unpopularity of the December 25th event as a religious activity. But this is exactly what makes Japan’s Christmas celebration a unique and interesting experience for tourists!
Knowing, witnessing and immersing yourself in one of the oldest traditions in a new place like Tokyo will surely make your trip a memorable one.
Below are things you need to know, and you can do to enjoy your Kurisumasu (Christmas) festivity in Tokyo:
1. Understanding Japanese reason for Christmas celebration
With only one percent of the Japanese population are Christians, Christmas are celebrated for non-religious reasons. For Japanese people, Christmas Day is a season for spreading happiness and meant to be celebrated with your significant partner and friends. This might be because Christmas is not an official holiday in Japan. While most schools are closed, some offices actually require employees to go to work on December 25. The time for Japanese families to come together is during New Year. Most of Tokyo residents go back to their hometown to be with their families on the first day of new year.
Another fun fact about this holiday season in Japan is that Christmas Eve is the most romantic day of the year. It is common for couple to book a romantic dinner date and exchange precious gifts on December 24. Most of the restaurants and hotel offer special meals during Christmas Eve to cater to Japanese couple. And the streets are decorated to make you feel the passion of love. Indeed, Christmas in Japan is the time when love is in the air!
2. Taste uniquely Japanese Christmas food
You might think that this cake is familiar but can’t exactly remember where you see it. It’s the emoji available on your phone that you usually use when expressing your sweet appetite.
With Japan’s rise from the ashes of World War II, ingredients that can be found in this simple, yet delicious cake symbolizes prosperity. This is often served during one’s birthday too. But during Christmas, this sponge cake with strawberry and whipped cream are decorated with the holiday’s elements such as trees, flowers and Santa Claus.
A successful marketing campaign in 1974 created this famous Japanese tradition of having Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas day. Lines are unusually long leading to days of Christmas so if you are planning to experience Japan’s Christmas, make sure you order in advance to avoid the crowd!
3. Enjoy the Christmas vibe of festive joy wherever you go
Despite not having Christmas as an official holiday, the festive and vibrant vibe of this season can be felt throughout Tokyo. In the West, putting up Christmas tree at your own home is the biggest trend. But in Japan, it’s the business and shopping districts which make sure that Tokyo locals and residents feel the light and love of this holiday! And these districts try to outshine each other and outdo themselves through ensuring that they have grander and prettier Illumination events every year. Visit famous shopping malls like Roppongi Hills, Carietta Shiodome and Tokyo Midtown to experience Japan’s Christmas!
Christmas, in most parts of the world, is the time where families get to bond together and celebrate the holiday based on their own traditions. But celebrating this festive event in a foreign country can be an exciting experience too! Since in Japan, it is time for celebration with friends, you would want to meet and make new friends during your trip in Tokyo. One of the best activities where you can find fellow tourists is by joining free walking day tours in Tokyo --- organized by Tokyo locals and actively participated by citizens from different parts of the world!
It is impossible to finish up your KFC chicken bucket and strawberry short cake in one sitting, so it’s better shared with new friends. Join Tokyo Localized’s Shinjuku Night Tour and you might meet your Japanese Christmas buddies! There might also be more stories about the cultural traditions of Japan that only a local could know! Once you meet your tour guide, greet him by saying, “Meri Kurisumasu.” Enjoy a Christmas celebration in a Japanese way!
Tokyo Localized provides visitors and travellers to Tokyo with a unique perspective of this great city, what makes us unique is that our tour guides live and work in Tokyo, have a passion for this city and love meeting and welcoming new faces. Find out more about our Unique Day and Night Tours of Tokyo - we can't wait to meet you!
About the writer
Rocel is a believer of living life to the fullest through creating memories with her loved ones – family, friends and self. One of the things she enjoys doing with them is travelling where they get to experience new cultures, new cuisines, new stories to share and memories to look back. In 2018 alone, she travelled to 5 continents which exposed her to the world’s wonders. After all those trips, Japan is still one of her favorite countries because of its unique and rich culture and natural resources. She lived and studied in Tokyo, Japan for one year where she developed deeper love and appreciation towards the country.