How To Celebrate Christmas In Japan.

Romaji: Meri Kurisumasu!

Hiragana: めりーくりすます

Katakana: メリークリスマス


Merry Christmas everyone!

It’s my second Christmas in the land of the rising sun and my day is the same as last year (as of now). I am at work today just like last year, I had classes and just waiting for another one while writing this.

So my day goes like this; I got up early since it’s weekend, went to school 20 minutes before the time, bought breakfast at 7/11, checked my schedule, attend the meeting, ate early lunch (fried chicken and fries) at 11:00 because I have marathon class from 12:30 to 4:00, talked with students and handout some postcard and now, killing time.

So I wanna share things I have learned about Japan’s Christmas celebration.

1. Japan doesn’t celebrate Christmas as a religious celebration, Christmas is known as more of a time to spread happiness with a love one (boyfriend, girlfriend thingy) or with family and friends.  (I am not sure if it’s true but I’ve heard that Christmas eve is also peak season for love hotel and usually fully book this season because lovers are singing jingles all the way lol).

a0000770_parts_585225eea7d89Lovers on Christmas | ©


2. They eat FRIED CHICKEN on Christmas, especially KFC. I’ve tried asking all of my students and here are some of their answers; 1. KFC stands for Kurisumasu Fried Chicken, 2. They eat chicken as an alternative for turkey, 3. Because it’s popular, 4. Everyone eats fried chicken, 5. KFC- Kentucky For Christmas and 6. I don’t know eehhhhhh (then think deeply)

1    The Japanese KFC Christmas menu| © Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku

3. Demand is so high for KFC at Christmas time that queue outside the restaurants are pretty long. They also have KFC Buffet during this season but only in chosen areas like Osaka or Tokyo.

  1. kre5nxgcwa4ik6gl3ti4.jpgKFC | © Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku

“According to KFC Japan spokeswoman Motoichi Nakatani, it started thanks to Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the first KFC in the country. Shortly after it opened in 1970, Okawara woke up at midnight and jotted down an idea that came to him in a dream: a “party barrel” to be sold on Christmas.

Okawara dreamed up the idea after overhearing a couple of foreigners in his store talk about how they missed having turkey for Christmas, according to Nakatani. Okawara hoped a Christmas dinner of fried chicken could be a fine substitute, and so he began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate the holiday.

In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan national, calling it Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or Kentucky for Christmas. It took off quickly, and so did the Harvard-educated Okawara, who climbed through the company ranks and served as president and CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan from 1984 to 2002.

The Party Barrel for Christmas became almost immediately a national phenomenon, says Joonas Rokka, associate professor of marketing at Emlyon Business School in France. He has studied the KFC Christmas in Japan as a model promotions campaign.

“It filled a void,” Rokka says. “There was no tradition of Christmas in Japan, and so KFC came in and said, this is what you should do on Christmas.”

Advertisements for the company’s Christmas meals show happy Japanese families crowding around barrels of fried chicken. But it’s not just breasts and thighs – the meals have morphed into special family meal-sized boxes filled with chicken, cake, and wine. This year, the company is selling Kentucky Christmas dinner packages that range from a box of chicken for 3,780 yen, ($32), up to a “premium” whole-roasted chicken and sides for 5,800 yen. According to KFC, the packages account for about a third of the chain’s yearly sales in Japan.

It also helped that the stores dressed up the company mascot, the smiling white-haired Colonel Sanders, in Santa outfits. In a country that puts high value on its elders, the red satin-suited Sanders soon became a symbol of a holiday.

BBC Capital: How a fast-food marketing campaign turned into a widespread Yuletide tradition for millions.

4. They eat sponge cake on Christmas frosted with whipped cream, decorated with strawberries.

strawberry_shortcake_6639268625 Strawberry shortcake | © Naotake Murayama/WikiCommons


5. Christmas tree is not common at home but most establishments has Christmas decors.

6. The have their Buddhist Santa – Hoteiosho, who resembles Santa Kuruuso (Santa Claus).  They call him Hotei-sama. He’s a Buddhist monk, with a large belly and a cloth sack full of toys.  He has eyes in the back of his head, which means that he’s able to see the children and how they behave without them knowing.

Budai.jpg Milei.vencel, Hungary – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

And that’s all for now, I’ll be having class in 10 minutes now. I may not be having celebrations like I usually do in the Philippines, I am still happy because I know that wherever we are in the world, in the universe rather (naks lakas maka-Pia) Christmas is for our Jesus Christ and we can always celebrate in our heart with Him. Let’s not all forget that Christmas is for Him, and remember that this day is the day that he was born and let’s all be grateful for everything that we have.

I’m wishing everyone Merry Christmas!

And if you are in Japan during this season please have a “Merii Kurisumasu!”—the Japanese way!



Bored Sensei.