As time creeps closer to December 25th it becomes more evident that Japan loves Christmas. It is arguably as popular in Japan as it is in America. The difference being that it is not a religious holiday considering the majority of Japanese people are Buddhist, Shinto, or don’t consider themselves to be affiliated with any religion. Therefore, Christmas is solely a celebration of presents, decorations, and KFC. That’s right, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or commonly called ‘Kentucky’ is a standard Christmas meal in Japan.
Lets begin with the present’s. Something that is quite popular during the winter months is an item called a コタツ kotatsu. A kotatsu is a table with a built-in heater underneath it. Underneath the tabletop is a thick blanket that traps the warm air beneath the table in order to keep a cozy place for your legs. Japanese people commonly use a kotatsu to stay warm during the winter months and cut down on energy costs.
Also, I got a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree in the mail, compliments of my Aunt Karen.
Although it is common to see Christmas trees now, the ornaments in Japan vary in style to keep Japanese people satisfied with their undying desire for anything cute. Nearly every restaurant, clothing store, convenience store, or even professional businesses have a Christmas theme presented in the front of their store.
Decorations are always key during Christmas season. My parents home is always filled with countless snowmen, reindeer, Santa’s, and candy. Why should it be any different in other parts of the world? Luckily, Japan loves decorations so much that Christmas started in mid-November. Stores are filled with decorations, everywhere I look a Christmas tree is in the window, Christmas lights are beginning to line the streets, and let’s not forget about the music.
At my school we just celebrated Christmas. There was a party that all the students could come to in order to play games and receive presents. The activities were based off of American games, but it had been ‘Japanified’ in a sense, meaning the games were cute first, Christmas second. For example, we made gingerbread men from cork materials and did races with Santa clothes. However we ate chocolate fondu and at the end we did the, “Cha Cha Slide”, which is commonly played at weddings or large parties for an audience familiar with the dance. Despite its relation to Christmas being vague to say the least, the parents enjoyed watching the students dance to a song in English and snack on chocolate covered sweets.
Some areas of Japan are very serious with their Christmas decorations. They enjoy the theme and embrace the spirit that surrounds Christmas.
With all of the decorations shown along the streets you would think you were in America. In addition to the street decorations are businesses that have taken on the idea of Christmas as a part of everyday business opportunities. As you can see, one bakery had taken on the idea of Santa bread. There are even Christmas trains that are decorated and filled with Christmas music. If you’re REALLY looking for some Christmas variety, there’s always Santa lingerie.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I’m loving every second of it at this point. I’ll follow up with more that I notice related to Christmas soon, but until then Happy Holidays.