‘Weird’ Christmas Customs Only in Japan! | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

‘Weird’ Christmas Customs Only in Japan!

By Guidable Writers Dec 1, 2017

This post is also available in: Spanish

Japan has accepted many religions as a part of our culture, Christianity is either not an exception and for sure we also enjoy Christmas as a festival from the Christian culture. However, we have a different way of celebrating compared to other countries,  So I would like to introduce you our unique way to enjoy Christmas in Japan!


  1. Order a Christmas cake

If your family does celebrate Christmas and host a party at home, they would order a Christmas cake from somewhere, either from a convenience store, department store or from a bakery. For Japanese people, Christmas is one of the excuses which we can enjoy binging on cakes.

We do not have a specific type of Christmas cake which we eat on the day of Christmas, however, most of the time, we order a whole cake decorated with whipped cream. That white cream reminds us of snow and creates an atmosphere of ‘fairy white Christmas’. On the top of the cake, you will see red strawberries and Santa Clause made with a marzipan or sugar.  This red color of strawberries looks like the clothes of Santa Clause, which is another reason for us to order the one with a lot of whipped cream.

This custom of eating cakes with whipped cream and strawberries on the Christmas day was made by the founder of Fujiya which is the famous Japanese cake shop. He brought the inspiration of such cake from the US and had changed it into a Japanese-like tasted one.


  1. Get a KFC

Usually, Japanese people do not eat a turkey on the Christmas day, instead, we go to KFC and get some deep fried chickens. It is so much unseen to eat turkey in Japan because it is simply hard to get it in here and that is why we eat chicken.

The origin of this custom starts with a foreigner lived in Tokyo, who wanted to get a turkey for Christmas, but couldn’t find it in Japan. So that person ended up eating KFC. KFC had heard the story and started to make images of people eating fried chicken on the day of Christmas and use it as one of their strategy to make sales volume up.


  1. No Christmas card

Japanese people do not have the custom to send a Christmas card. Some people might follow the custom existing in the western country and send Christmas cards to others. However, most people do not follow this custom.

It is assumed that Nengajyo might be the reason why we do not send a card on Christmas day. Nengajyo is a message card sent as greeting for the new year, which Japanese people have as our custom.

That is why we are not used to sending a Christmas card to the others, I guess.


  1. Spending their time with lover

For people who are from western countries, Christmas is usually a time to spend with their family. However, for most of the Japanese people, Christmas is an event for lovers.

People go on a date on the Christmas day with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The reason why people spend their Christmas with their lover is not clear, however, Omisoka and Oshogatsu are probably the main reason for this.

Omisoka is 31st of December and Oshogatsu is 1st of January, Japanese people have the custom to spend these days with family members. This idea might be similar to one of Christmas for western people. So we have had the same custom which western people do for Christmas on the day of Omisoka and Oshogatsu. As a result, Japanese have decided to spend Christmas with a partner instead of family.



  1. Christmas is not a public holiday

Christmas is not a public holiday in Japan,  So it is normal for us to go to school or work around 24 and 25 of December.

Many of white-collar workers work till around 27 or 28 of December, and they get a holiday for New Year after then.

So some people spend their Christmas doing nothing special. And this is quite normal for Japanese people.


  1. Shops open everywhere and do a bargain

As well as Christmas is not for one of the public holidays for white-collar workers, almost every shop opens even if it is on the Christmas day.

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of couple going on a date on Christmas day, there are full of people on a shopping mall or some shops in a city.

So Christmas is a day of winning streak, so many shops have a bargain at that time. Also, you should not forget that there will be a lot of people who come to the cake shop to get a Christmas cake, which is why Christmas is the most important day for cake shops to boost their profit.

P.s. If you have any preferences for cakes for the Christmas day, it is better to book it in advance.



So there are the unique customs about Japanese Christmas culture. I think they are very different from your countries. If you want to enjoy Japanese style Christmas, why don’t you follow the way introduced in this article?