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Christmas in Japan


15 Mar 2002
Wishing all members of the forum a very happy and enjoyable Christmas.
Just curious
Whats a typical Christmas day for the Japanese? How does the day start,proceed and end? Do they eat anything special? Do they wear new clothes?

Religious go to the Church, others party?.........Would like to know how its celebrated.Or do people scoot off to their hometown and freak out there till New Year?

Thanks Kinjo! 🙂:

There are a few J-related Christmas articles in this thread. In Western countries Christmas is usually quiet. Contrary to Japan, it's during New Year people freak out, lol.
planning on going over there for new years.... :D

den4 :D

to japan that is... :p

see what crazy things have come up since I was there six years ago.... :D
I'm just curious about Christmas in Japan. All I know about it is from watching the Love Hina Christmas Special, does it represent the hoilday well? I know the Christian aspect of it must be looked at as pretty foreign, but with the secular commerical aspect of it, surely businesses promote the holiday to sell gifts? How do people celebrate it, and what are some Japanese customs/traditions?
Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan. Aside from the Christian or pagan aspect of gift giving (depending upon how you look upon this day in Japan), people go to work just like any other day. If you're Christian, it obviously has some special meaning for you, but for the typical Japanese, that I've come across, it is usually a day when lovers get together at some fancy hotel, resort, or vacation spot to have a private dinner together and maybe watch a movie or some other recreational activity. At least that was how it was represented to me when I was still there. And, around that time, the Marui shop usually ran commercials with Tatsuro Yamashita's "Christmas Eve" tune showing scenes of Christmas trees, decorations, Christmas cakes and Shinkansens for the duration of the commercial...
Also a time when pastry shops go out of their way to sell xmas cakes, Tokyo Disneyland does its xmas light parade, and none of the classic children's TV specials, created by Rankin Bass and done by the then Tezuka Osamu's Mushi Pro studios, are shown because for some reason you can only find those shows on video or dvds :p
Also the season when you get fanatical Christian wannabe televangelists blaring their taped messages (in Japanese) on megaphones out in front of Hachiko Square in Shibuya or elsewhere telling the Tokyoites that they are going to hell unless they convert to Christianity. :eek: This really puts a damper on the xmas mood and spirit... :(
but again, it is not a recognized holiday, and what you see in anime specials may not reflect the reality....I'm sure others can explain the current trends better than I can... :D
because What do I know? :D
Den4 hit it right on the head.

I would add that kids look forward to the day too, because, in short, they get stuff. Like Den4 said, Christmas in Japan is a holiday for couples, children, eating cake, and watching stuff on TV.

Also, since there is no Thanksgiving in Japan, the push to get ready for the gift-giving starts in early Novemeber. You can already order your Christmas cake.

All that said, the Japanese New Years celebration really put the western ones to shame. That is when all the family and togetherness stuff comes in.
Originally posted by SacredBlue
And just to add there are no turkey dinners in Japan 😊

Well, they did have a turkey dinner in some isolated parties in and around Japan (depending upon the family or company), and the one time I went to a xmas party for the company I used to work for, they were serving "rare" Turkey, on a grand plate, that reminded me of sashimi (raw fish)... 😲 No stuffing or gravy there, folks! :D
That turned me off faster than the other stuff they were serving....I suppose it was "stylish" and "fashionable" but raw turkey meat just does nothing to whet my appetite.... :D
My second year in Japan some friends and I tried to replicate as close as possible to preparing an authentic, old-fashioned, just-like-Mom-used-to-make, homestyle Thanksgiving meal (with all the fixin's) for a mutual group of Japanese friends. As I was the only American in the group (one Aussie, a Brit, and a Nigerian), they all looked up to me to get the meal "just right" per se since it was after all MY "Yankee tradition" heh.

Let's just say it didn't turn out quite as well as we had expected, heh (a cullinary nightmare more like it...). Ever seen a Japanese oven that can bake a 22lb. bird? Me neither 8-p Nevertheless it wasn't bad, just not quite the same for someone like myself who relished those opportunities growing up to be with friends and family all sharing a great meal at dinnertime.
Actually they don't party much for new years. They stay home with the family and eat new years foods.
they all sit at home and watch either the Kohaku song contest on NHK and wait for the bells to toll by the priests at the temples....or they watch the new year's eve variety shows and then eat like mad the special new year's meals...and then some folks are crazy enough to go to some isolated place to catch the first rays of the sun.... :D
LOL Japanese ovens ( if your lucky enough to have one ) are small. You'ld be suprised to find out how well a Weber kettle grill doubles as an oven. Ive cooked pizzia, lasagna, a cake and yes a Thanksgiving turkey on one.
come on now...the first sun rise of the new year, that would be a sight to see. Especially for the japanese, what with some of the superstitions they have had. I don't think I have missed one in 15 years.

That is too funny. I have to get me a Weber now...LOL
samuraitora: perhaps it is a sight to see, assuming it doesn't get fogged up or clouded...but I don't care to struggle through traffic just to see it...it's the same sun rising no matter what day of the year it is.... :p

I suppose it's better than choking on mochi on the first day... :D
There is a uplifting aspect to seeing the first sunrise of the new year. It gives me a feeling of hope and inspiration. This feeling is only facilitated because I want to feel it, but still. I have been taking a much more zen look at things since I had the boy and nature is a big part of His and My life. He is looking forward to seeing it with me this year.
We have published a few articles on Christmas in Japan and the Japanese New Year that people might be interested in.


I was told in the last email that i recieved from my friend in japan at the minute that they dont really recognise it as a christian holiday.. its mainly commercial.

She said that in there is a shop somewhere in kukura with a Santa Claus on a Crusafix!!! :D :D .....not sure if thats quite correct.. ;)

Im at the minute hoping to go over to visit in the new year...i hear that its wicked in japan at the new year. 😄

Unfortunately, we in the states are leaning more towards recognizing it as a commercial holiday too. That is just what many of the people I talk to say. The stores are putting up Christmas stuff even before Thanksgiving gets here. Am I the only one this troubles?
Nope. Its been troubling me that like you say they have been putting christmas stuff in stores earlier this year. They started the christmas adverts and even christmas late night shopping here where i live in the UK even before it was December. It just makes it seem wrong to me. . .I mean, im not religous about christmas but this year it seems completely ott. . .

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