OK for some reason or another I feel super motivated to write about something other than anime for the weekend. With this being one of my fav times of year I deciede to write a bit about Christmas in Japan! No worries though, Monday I will be right back to the 12 Anime Days Of Christmas!!!
Even though Japan generally practices Shinto and Buddhism (religion is not a big role in the day to day life in Japan but these are the main religions that Japanese will say they practice), some still dabble in Christian practices that the missionaries’ brought during the 16th century. (Only about 1% of Japan’s population is Christian.) One of the Christian practice that continues on today even with the non Christian population is Christmas!
Christmas in Japan is a mix of western tradition and traditions that are unique to Japan. Even though this is not a national holiday, you will see throughout Japan the houses, towns, major cities and malls will all be covered with your usual Christmas lights and decoration. Areas in Tokyo such as Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Akihabara, Harajuku…etc. you will find large extravagantly decorated Christmas trees that will be the size of small building. This along with gift giving on the 25th are some of the western traditions that they celebrate.
Japanese Christmas traditions are a bit different. One of the things that stand out the most compared to western culture is that instead of Christmas being a focus on family, its more of a romantic based holiday. Like valentine’s day romantic, gooey, sappy lovey-dovey makes you want to vomit type of day. A lot of the stores are geared towards what to get your loved one that day and the same with commercials. There is even a push to get people to go to the love hotels to have a special Christmas night with their loved one! (In Japan love hotels are not frowned upon like the by the hour rooms are here. Since most people live at home even after they get married and a minute away to have ‘relations’ is very hard to come by without some help.)
Another thing that you won’t see is a family sitting down to a full dinner with a turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and green bean casserole (or in my in-laws house steak and king crab legs! Yes odd but everyone has a ton of family dinners between Thanksgiving and Christmas so this set of family members decided to do something completely different to break up the monotony). You will see lines down the street to get a KFC Christmas meal! Yes! That’s right! KFC is the staple of Christmas meals in Japan!
Colonel Sanders is as big of a figure of Christmas as is Santa in Japan. Even outside of Christmas you can find random Colonel Sanders statues all over Japan. I happened to find one on a side street in Harajuku when I was shopping one time!
Along with KFC there is another traditional food item from Japan that you will see. The Christmas cake! Personally I would LOVE LOOOOVE LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEE to see this tradition start up here! I love me some Japanese Christmas Cake! Its so light and fluffy and has strawberries…
You will see shops on every corner selling these cakes or variations of it throughout the month. There is a saying that goes with the Christmas cakes in regards to girls that is about the ‘age at which women should get married’. This idea has become less strict over time but, unmarried girls who are older than 25 (the 25th is Christmas, duh!) are called ‘Christmas Cakes’ because in order to sell a Christmas Cake after Christmas, they have to be put out at big discounts (i.e. you’re supposed to get married before hitting 25 or else there is no hope for your family to marry you off). Harsh but you see where they get the idea from if you understand the pressure in Japan for women to marry early.
If you want to try your hand at making a Japanese Christmas cake here is a link to a recipe that I have found to be the closest you can get to it!
These are just a few of the traditions that you can find in Japan for Christmas! If you have more that you want to share please feel free to comment below! :c)
Ok so there is your history lesson for the year! Let’s hope that I am not motivated any time soon to do another! LMAO!