Celebrate Christmas, Japanese Style!

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DISCOVER: Celebrate Christmas, Japanese Style!

Japan may have a Christian population of less that 1%, but like many Western traditions, that of celebrating Christmas has crept it’s way into local culture, albeit in a distinctly Japanese way.

So if you find yourself in Japan over the festive season, or fancy switching it up this year, why not do as the Japanese do? Pay a visit to Santa San, couple up on Christmas Eve, swap your fruit cake for strawberry sponge and trade your turkey for… a bucket of fried chicken. Well, when in Rome…

1. Get Stuck in to Kentucky Fried Christmas

Perhaps the most unusual Christmas tradition in Japan is that of side-stepping the usual turkey with all the trimmings, and instead tucking into a tub of KFC on Christmas day. Originating in the 1970s thanks to the wildly successful ‘Kentucky for Christmas’ ad campaign, Kentucky Fried Chicken has become the go-to meal for families looking to celebrate the season. It’s not uncommon to preorder meals weeks in advance, and is easily the busiest time of year for the fast food giant. As well as the regular options, a special festive menu caters for all your Christmas needs including Christmas cake and wine.

2. Eat Strawberry Shortcake

Ever wondered what the origin of the ? emoji is? Probably not, but you may be surprised to learn it’s not a slice of victoria sponge, but strawberry shortcake, or Japanese Christmas cake. Light and spongy topped with whipped cream and strawberries, Japanese Christmas cake bears no resemblance to the sticky fruit cakes eaten in the West, and makes for a refreshing alternative.

3. Couple-up on Christmas Eve

Presents aren’t commonly exchanged at Christmas in Japan, with the more significant New Year celebrations just around the corner. However it’s become tradition for couples to exchange gifts and plan a romantic evening together on Christmas Eve, much in the way Valentines Day is celebrated in the West. Young couples in particular embrace the romance of the season and can be seen cosying-up on the eve before Christmas, enjoying a candlelit dinner for two or taking a stroll to view the festive lights.

4. Pay a visit to Santa-san

When in Japan, Father Christmas takes on an authoritative local persona, going by ‘Santa San’ or ‘Mr. Santa’ to you and I. Although he tends to skip squeezing himself down Japanese chimneys on Christmas Eve, he can be found throughout December in shopping malls and at parties, handing out small gifts to delighted children.

5. Stroll Down Starlit Streets

Festive illuminations are probably Japan’s favourite way to celebrate the Christmas season, with city centres transforming into LED-lit winter wonderlands. So if you don’t fancy Christmassy KFC or introducing yourself to Santa San, one of the best ways to get a feel for Japan’s take on Christmas is to simply stroll the streets and admire the twinkling lights.

Meri Kurisumasu! From ANA

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