Enjoying Christmas 2017 in Japan: 5 Interesting Activities You Can Do
Even though the majority of Japan’s population are not Christian, Christmas is still celebrated with much festivity, despite not being a national holiday. Christmas specialties can easily be found decorating department stores and various corners of the city. For the average Japanese, Christmas is just a reason to celebrate, rather than being part of a religious observance. This is what differentiates the Christmas celebrations in Japan from those in Western countries. While in Western countries, Christmas is usually enjoyed by gathering with extended family, in Japan, Christmas is a time to spend time with your partner. If you happen to be in Japan at Christmas, here are some activities you can do:
Christmas time coincides with the winter sales in Japan, which begin during December. Shops will give discounts of between 10-30%, making it a good opportunity to buy Christmas items and gifts for loved ones.
Enjoy the Illuminated Lamps
At the start of winter, illuminated lights begin to adorn the cities and thousands (even millions) of LED lights create a fantastic and romantic atmosphere. If you’re in Tokyo, you can visit the Caretta Shiodome Illumination (250 thousand lights), Roppongi Hills Artelligent Christmas (1.2 million lights) or Omotesando Hills (900 thousand lights) and feel the Japanese Christmas spirit.
Eat KFC, a Typical Christmas Food in Japan
One unique aspect of typical Christmas celebrations in Japan is the tradition of eating KFC on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day! This tradition was established following the successful KFC campaign in the 1970s when the fast food chain first arrived in Japan. Since then, KFC makes regular appearances at Christmas events in Japan.
In the lead up to Christmas, you will see the Colonel Sanders mascot dressed in a Santa Claus-style suit at KFC outlets. Special Christmas menu items such as the “Party Barrel”, “Christmas Pack” and “Premium Series” are available, although you’ll need to order well in advance if you don’t want to be queuing for hours! To avoid queuing, you can order online from December 22 to 25. Click here to get a special Christmas menu from KFC!
Visit the Christmas Markets
Christmas is synonymous with ornaments, decorations and gifts and one of the best places to shop for these is at the Christmas Markets. The Japanese Christmas markets are inspired by those in Europe, especially Germany. In addition to Christmas tree ornaments and decorations, you can also buy food and drinks typical of Germany such as sausages, beer and wine.
If you happen to be in Tokyo, visit the Tokyo Christmas Market 2017 at Hibiya Park from December 15-25 or the World Christmas Festival 2017 at Yoyogi Park, which will be held on December 23-24. If you’re visiting Osaka, there is a German Christmas Market at the Umeda Sky Building on December 17-25, 2017.
Watching the Christmas Parades at Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan
These two theme parks host annual special events to enliven the Christmas celebration. In 2017, Tokyo Disneyland is presenting “Christmas Fantasy 2017”, which started on November 8 and lasts until December 25. Part of the program includes a parade of Disney's adorable characters and the theme of this year's parade is the seven Christmas stories of Disney characters. The parade will be held twice a day and lasts for 40 minutes.
The Christmas event held by Universal Studios Japan (USJ) lasts slightly longer (from November 8 to January 9). In the Minion Mayhem Christmas Party, you can dance and sing with parading minions along the Main Street of USJ every day. The parade usually takes place twice a day, although there are a few days when it will only happen once. For the detailed parade schedule, check here.
Written by Kanona