Christmas in Japan

It has been awhile since my last post, but the adventures keep on coming! It is already halfway through January, but Christmas in Japan has left quite an impression on me.

While Christmas is a big deal in the United States, in Japan it’s a much more (extremely) commercial, just-for-fun kind of holiday. Class is still in session if it falls on a weekday (or even a Saturday, if you have classes on Saturdays like I do). It is less about celebrating anything, and more about having an excuse to do some fun traditions.

Illuminations in Roppongi

The funny thing is that these traditions performed on Christmas are meant to emulate what they think an “American Christmas” is like. These traditions include eating pizza and KFC, a “Christmas cake,” looking at illuminations, and playing American Christmas music. To a lot of people who follow Christmas traditions in America, eating pizza and KFC on Christmas might seem unbelievable, and Christmas cakes don’t really exist as a tradition in America, but it is interesting to see the impression of the USA from a different cultural perspective. When I told my host family that I, and most people I know, don’t normally eat pizza or a Christmas cake on Christmas, they were actually shocked. They were also shocked to know that not all Americans celebrate Christmas.

My host family’s Christmas spread

However, despite Christmas not being that big of a deal in Japan, I think it was probably one of the most enjoyable Christmas’s of my life! I was prepared for this aspect of Japan, as I had heard about it and had been looking forward to it, but there is something so enjoyable and refreshing about experiencing your traditions through a different cultural perspective. While growing up Christmas has always been considered this huge deal by everyone around me, but having people treat it like not such a big deal gave me a huge insight into life.

Christmas Cake

I realized that we humans get to choose what days are special to us. Before this year, I had never really chose to make Christmas a special day, other people simply told me it was. However, this year I got to decide if I wanted to make it a special day or not, and that is when it became truly special to me. Sure, if you follow a religion that has set holidays, then those days are determined special days. However, in my opinion, they aren’t really special until you let them be.

A very happy me at our Christmas party

I hope you all enjoy whatever days are special to you, and of course the very average days as well.

Published by Abby

Class of 2023 Dance Performance and Japanese Language Studies Dual Major Waseda University - Tokyo, Japan

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