Christmas in Japan [日本のクリスマス]

In the Christmas season, Christmas events such as a Christmas lights are held as with other countries. But there are some customs different from other countries.

Christmas tree of Hotel Ōkura
Christmas tree of Hotel Ōkura at Minato City, Tokyo



In 1551, a missionary of the Society of Jesus, Francis Xavier began Christian missionary work in Yamaguchi and in the following year, 1552, a Jesuit, Cosme de Torrès celebrated Christmas with Japanese Christians. This is the origin of Christmas in Japan.

Yamaguchi Xavier Memorial Church
Yamaguchi Xavier Memorial Church[山口ザビエル記念聖堂(やまぐちザビエルきねんせいどう)] in Yamaguchi City



Christmas in Japan has less religious meaning because the ratio of Japanese Christian is 1% of the population.

Many Japanese are indifferent to religion and I think they say that they have no religion. We have Buddhist and Shintoist customs but many Japanese practice them not as a religion but a tradition and a seasonal event. Therefore, they think Christmas as a seasonal event and many Japanese love Christmas.

Tokyo Skytree with ’Candle Tree' lightingTokyo Skytree with ’Champagne Tree' lighting
Tokyo Skytree illuminated with Christmas special lightings
Left: 'Candle Tree'   Right: 'Champagne Tree'




TOKYO SKYTREE Dream Christmas 2016, Projection mapping



As it was previously mentioned, there are some Christmas customs different from other countries in Japan. In other countries, many people spend time with their family or have a home party on Christmas. But in Japan, many people think that Christmas is an event for lovers and children.

People go on a date with their lover at Christmas. In the family with children, special dinner is made and a shortcake decorated by ornaments such as Santa Claus and reindeer made from marzipan is prepared(Bûche de Noël is also popular). Of course, the children get Christmas present from Santa Claus.

Christmas cake
Christmas cake


And in other countries like USA, the people eat turkey on Christmas but many Japanese people eat chicken dishes like a fried chicken.

Colonel Sanders figure wearing the costume of Santa ClausPeko chan
Left: Colonel Sanders figure wearing the costume of Santa Claus
Right: Peko chan, who is a mascot of a cake shop 'Fujiya', wearing the costume of Santa Claus





In December, Christmas events are held all over Japan and Christmas songs are played(Especially, "Christmas Eve" by Tatsurō Yamashita[山下達郎(やましたたつろう)] is the most famous Christmas song and its sales goes up in that season.).

And in recent years, although being smaller than Germany, Christmas markets have come to be held in Japan.

Tokyo Christmas Market 2016 at Hibiya ParkTokyo Christmas Market 2016 at Hibiya ParkTokyo Christmas Market 2016 at Hibiya ParkTokyo Christmas Market 2016 at Hibiya Park
Tokyo Christmas Market 2016 at Hibiya Park, Chiyoda City, Tokyo

Christmas lighting show of Fuji TV BuildingChristmas lighting show of Fuji TV Building at Odaiba, Minato City, Tokyo





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