The (ugly) truth or all you need to know about Christmas in Japan

If you are in Japan, there are a few things you should know about Christmas, in advance.

First, Christmas preparation here starts early, i.e. on November 1st all Halloween related decorations are gone and immediately replaced with red socks and Santa’s.

I can hear some of you saying, “what a nonsense, it’s still two months to go”. True, though you should have in mind that here Christmas is not about Jesus birth or family gathering. It is nothing more than something Western, an excuse to announce sales, buy gifts, and do more shopping in general.

Second, the stocks generally are not replenished. This means that you either buy some Christmas decorations right away in mid-November, or there may be not much left when you will decide that now it is the right time.

Third, the same applies to food. You realize Christmas is coming when they start selling strawberries and strawberry cakes.

No matter the season, they taste and smell like strawberries (not plastic)!

It is an essential Christmas attribute, a sponge cake with strawberries, often referred to as the “Western cake” (Westerners, has anyone of you ever heard about it? ), which has to be ordered a month in advance. I am not joking and if you don’t think in advance, your Christmas may not be that white (and merry) after all…

Not (yet) the Western cake, but another seasonal dessert

Fourth, and the one that completely blew me away, was the most popular Christmas food. Try to guess! While Parisians shop for escargot, foie gras (my absolute favourite when served with a toast and port wine jam), seafood, exotic fruits that you don’t see at any other time during the year, and champagne, here people (especially, young families) go for… KFC!

In France, you would go for something like this

Correct, this stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which, as you can already guess, has to be ordered a month in advance! By December 19 or so, the shops stop taking orders and there is no way you can get it afterwards, seriously.

Fifth, Christmas Eve has nothing to do with family dinner. Believe it or not, but it is THE date night of the year. I was told that couples book hotels for a romantic date as early as a year in advance.

Last but not least, the show goes on until December 25, sharp. When the entire Western world finally celebrates Christmas, in Japan Christmas is already gone, all decorations are taken away (in fact, it is an ordinary working day) and everyone starts preparing for the New Year (Japanese way). As one Dutch guy summarized, Christmas in Japan is a big lie, it’s like sex without orgasm, when you feel that it’s coming and then… it’s gone before it actually happens.

So, what are you doing for Christmas this year?

P.S. I will keep you posted about preparations and Christmas illuminations, though my plan is to get a “Western” cake (you have to try, right?) and book a trip to celebrate Christmas somewhere else…

2 Replies to “The (ugly) truth or all you need to know about Christmas in Japan”

  1. Thanks! My Japanese and foreign friends and colleagues said these are essentials I should know before my first Christmas in Japan. Let’s see 😉

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