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Gems of Japan: Why is Christmas popular here?

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Two Locals Tell Us Why

As I cycled through the streets of Tokyo, Shibuya to be specific, I couldn't help but notice the Christmas lights and decorations throughout the city. "This can't be what I think it is; the decorations surely aren't set up for Christmas, it must be some sort of Japanese holiday." I thought. After I cycled a couple of more blocks, I saw a huge Christmas tree. "Since when did Christmas become an international holiday?" I wondered.

As I parked my bike to explore the city by foot, I began to notice how department stores, bakery shops, and even train stations catered to the holiday season by displaying decorations, the Christmas cake (usually a sponge cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream), and special baked goods. Many Japanese nationals walked in awe of the illuminations & were filled with smiles; their reactions were as if they were experiencing Christmas for the very first time.

Slightly puzzled by witnessing the Western influence, I asked my Japanese friends why Christmas was popular in Japan:

"Japan has looked to the West for influence and has adopted some of their holidays. Like Halloween, we take it as a day to have a nice time out, dress up and have fun. The same with Christmas; it really doesn't mean anything to us, it's just for fun, nothing serious." one stated.

"Christmas is like Valentine's Day in Japan. It's a time where people go out with their boyfriend or girlfriend and have a nice time. It's also why some Japanese people feel lonely during Christmas if they don't have a partner; some get the courage to ask out the person they like before Christmas to avoid being alone for the holiday. But it's just a nice time to go out. Also, many parts of the city become lit, which makes it a pretty and happy time." another friend mentioned.



While Christmas isn't a national holiday in Japan, I learned that Christmas doesn't have a significant purpose as it does in the West and is used more for enjoyment than religious purposes. Christmas in Japan also tends to focus more on spending time with those you hold precious rather than exchanging presents.

Additionally, Christmas Eve tends to be the highlight; a special day set for couples to enjoy each others company, stroll around the city as they view the illuminations, have dinner at a restaurant, and exchange gifts. As for Christmas day, fried chicken tends to be the tradition, in which people actually place orders in advance, specifically from KFC.

Interestingly enough, some accommodation spots also use the holiday as a way to bridge the gap between Japanese nationals and Western travelers as a common interest between the two cultures. This approach has been easy for both parties to form new connections. And while Christmas isn't celebrated in the same way it is in the West, it's interesting to see how Japan has adopted the holiday to be harmonious to their way of life.

Do you enjoy the fact that Christmas has been introduced to Japan or do you have different views on the matter? Don't be shy to voice an opinion -- let me know.

[Photo Credit: Urasimaru and Isado]


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Lindo Korchi
Lindo KorchiContributor   gamer profile

Osu! I'm Lindo, a writer focused on philosophical thought, travel, & storytelling. I aim to look beyond the lens given to us by our culture, understand new perspectives, and create awesome storie... more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #Christmas #culture #feature #gems of japan #japan #travel

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