A Sparkling Christmas in Japan: Traditions, Treats, and Twinkling Lights

Merry Christmas! Christmas in Japan is a magical time of year, filled with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a unique twist on traditional celebrations. While not a religious holiday, it’s embraced enthusiastically, transforming the country into a wonderland of romance and cozy delights. This blog will tell you about the Christmas traditions in Japan, where to go during this time of the year, and more!

A Quick Jump To…

A Symphony of Lights

One cannot talk about Christmas in Japan without mentioning the breathtaking illuminations that transform cities into dazzling wonderlands. In Tokyo, the bustling Shibuya Crossing is adorned with sparkling lights, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that captures the essence of the season. Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills also host extravagant light displays, turning the cityscape into a vibrant canvas of colors that reflect the joy of the season.

Keyakizaka Illumination

Midtown Christmas 2023

Check out our blog: 2023 Coto Travel Guide: Things To Do in Japan in December to check out other Christmas Lights locations in Tokyo.

The Christmas Markets

Step into the heart of the Japanese Christmas spirit by exploring the charming Christmas markets that dot the cities. These markets, reminiscent of European winter fairs, offer a delightful array of festive treats, handmade crafts, and seasonal decorations. Visitors can sip on hot cocoa, indulge in festive snacks, and shop for unique gifts while immersing themselves in the joyful atmosphere.

Tokyo Christmas Market

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market

Check out our blog: 2023 Coto Travel Guide: Things To Do in Japan in December to check out other Christmas market locations in Tokyo.

Check out our Pinterest post: Christmas Market Food and Drinks In Japan and Christmas Market Goodies In Japan for some useful vocabulary for the Christmas market!

Christmas at Disney

Christmas transforms Tokyo Disney Resort into a winter wonderland, offering a uniquely magical experience for visitors of all ages. From twinkling lights and festive decorations to special parades and shows, Christmas at Disney Japan is a must-do for any holiday enthusiast.

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneysea

The Christmas Feasts

Instead of a traditional Christmas dinner, Japanese couples typically indulge in a special Christmas Eve dinner. KFC’s “Christmas Chicken” has become a beloved tradition, with families pre-ordering their fried chicken buckets weeks in advance. This became a staple item thanks to the influence of Kentucky Fried Chicken‘s successful marketing campaign in the 1970s.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Kentucky Christmas 2023

Party Barrel Variety¥4,700
Party Barrel Original¥4,700
Christmas Pack Pair¥2,700
Christmas Pack S¥2,900
Christmas Pack A¥4,300
Barbeque Chicken Combo¥2,000
Christmas Pack B¥3,100
Premium Roast Chicken with Gravy¥6,500
Roast Chicken Leg¥1,400
Roast Chicken Breast¥1,500
KFC Christmas Menu

Useful Phrases When Reserve KFC Christmas Menu

  • クリスマスパーティバーレルを予約したいのですが。Kurisumasupātibāreru o yoyaku shitai nodesuga. – I would like to reserve a Christmas Party Barrel.
  • いつまでに予約すればいいですか? Itsu made ni yoyaku sureba īdesu ka? – When do I need to make a reservation by?
  • このパーティーバーレルは、何人分になりますか。 Kono pātībāreru wa, nan ninbun ni narimasu ka. – How many people is the Party Barrel for?
  • チキンは、何ピース入っていますか。 Chikin wa, nan pīsu haitte imasu ka. – How many pieces of chicken are included?
  • サイドメニューは選べますか? Saidomenyū wa erabemasu ka? – Can I choose the side dishes?
  • いつ取りに行けばいいですか。 Itsu-tori ni ikeba īdesu ka. – When can I do the pick up?

The Gift of Sweetness

Christmas cakes are a must-have treat in Japan, often featuring fluffy sponge cake, fresh cream, and colorful decorations. These cakes are usually decorated with whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate! These cakes are enjoyed as a special dessert on Christmas Eve and are often pre-ordered weeks in advance.

Where To Reserve A Cake?

Useful Phrases When Reserve A Cake

  • ケーキを予約したいのですが。Kēki o yoyaku shitai nodesuga. – I would like to reserve a cake.
  • いつまでに予約すればいいですか? Itsu made ni yoyaku sureba īdesu ka? – When do I need to make a reservation by?
  • 何人分のケーキですか? Nan ninbun no kēkidesu ka? – How many people is the cake for?
  • どんな種類のケーキですか? Don’na shurui no kēkidesu ka? – What kind of cake is it?
  • デコレーションは、できますか。 Dekorēshon wa, dekimasu ka. – Can I add any decorations available?
  • いつ取りに行けばいいですか。 Itsu-tori ni ikeba īdesu ka. – When can I do the pick up?

Additional Tips for Celebrating Christmas in Japan

  • Learn a few basic Japanese phrases to enhance your experience. Coto is always here to help!
  • Dress warmly, as the weather can be cold.
  • Be prepared for crowds, especially at popular attractions.
  • Consider purchasing a Suica or Pasmo card for convenient travel on public transportation.
  • Enjoy the unique Christmas atmosphere and create lasting memories!

Christmas in Japan is a harmonious blend of tradition, innovation, and heartfelt celebration. From the dazzling lights of Tokyo to the serene winter illuminations in Kyoto, the Japanese have embraced the spirit of Christmas in their own unique way. Whether you’re captivated by the sparkling cityscapes or savoring the festive flavors, experiencing Christmas in Japan is a magical journey that leaves a lasting impression of joy and wonder.

You Might Be Wondering…

Do Japanese children get presents on Christmas?

Yes, some families exchange gifts on Christmas Day. However, Santa Claus is not as prominent as in Western countries.

Is Christmas a public holiday in Japan?

No, Christmas is not a public holiday in Japan. However, it is widely celebrated, and businesses, shops, and public spaces often embrace the festive spirit with decorations and special events.

How does the concept of omotenashi contribute to the Christmas experience in Japan?

おもてなし Omotenashi, the Japanese spirit of hospitality, is reflected in the warm and welcoming atmosphere created by hotels and shops during the Christmas season. The attentive service and genuine hospitality enhance the overall holiday experience.

Can tourists easily participate in and enjoy Christmas celebrations in Japan?

Absolutely! Tourists can immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by exploring Christmas markets, enjoying light displays, and partaking in the unique culinary traditions. The omotenashi spirit ensures a welcoming experience for visitors.

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