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Japan does Christmas

Japan does Christmas

Christmas in Japan is the day of couple romance and strawberry cakes. Bright, sweet and colourful.

Tokyo hardly ever gets snow but streets are covered with white and blue LED lights, producing perfect winter landscapes.

Winter is also strawberry season in Japan which is why on Christmas day couples and families share strawberry cake with a lot of whipped cream and soft sponge cake.

Tokyo is fun and delicious during Christmas. Have a tasting with me!

Couples have a romantic dinner on Christmas Eve. For people on a budget, conbinis (Japanese convenience stores) provide fantastic catering on Christmas. Your order will be brought to you to the door on the day. Apart from strawberry cake, chicken is part of the main meal. Apparently fast food chain KFC has popularized the tradition to eat chicken for Christmas.

Japanese conbini Christmas meal chicken and strawberry cakes

 

But most Japanese people stick to the “hara hachi bunme” Confucian rule which advises to eat only as much as to be 80% full. In Japan it seems even Santa stays slim and fit.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The percentage of Christians in Japan is rather low, so that Christmas day is not a national holiday, however Christmas commerce and city decorations are full on.

Shibuya shopping area.

Tokyo, Japan

 

I can’t name a shopping mall or popular place that does not feature a shiny sparkling Christmas tree. There are even adverts that tell you where to find the brightest Christmas illuminations.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Christmas tree delivery – new Christmas decorations pop up in no time.

Tokyo, Japan

 

I have adjusted to local customs and have been taking photographic evidence of the festive trees before moving on, to the next wonderfully decorated Christmas tree.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

 

Posing in front of Shibuya 109 Men’s department store with my Japanese friend Junko.

cheap dining in Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

 

Christmas tree pic in Tokyo’s Harajuku on our super kawaii day.

Tokyo Harajuku Christmas tree

 

We also hunted down the big Christmas tree and illuminated tree avenue in Akihabara – the geeky electronics area.

Christmas in Japan

 

Misako, Mai, me and mega tree.

Christmas in Japan

 

Akihabara tree avenue with Takaki, Mai, Misako and Alex – our besties in Tokyo.

Christmas in Japan

 

Akihabara provides Christmas treats to warm otaku hearts.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Japan loves cosplay. Also on Christmas.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

At night, Tokyo transforms into a forest of illuminated trees, malls and shopping areas.

Tokyo, Japan

Christmas in Japan

Christmas in Japan

Christmas in Japan

DSC08567

 

Traditional images meet LED at Shinjuku.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Christmas worlds on top of buildings. This is Tokyu Plaza terrace in fashion district Harajuku.

Head Pieces, Laforet Harajuku Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

Listen to some Christmas tunes and enjoy the decoration.

 

Tamagawa Takashiyama Department Store. A nice place to see Japanese Christmas decor, also a good spot to have dinner and do shopping. Many locals choose the elegant Tamagawa district as an option to Shinjuku or Shibuya.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Blinded by the lights.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Christmas customs are as colourful as in other countries. Okay, maybe more bright. Japan doesn’t seem to worry about its electricity bill. This is Kyodo Station, close to our house in Tokyo.

Head Pieces, Laforet Harajuku Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

There are escalators going up to the terrace which has been brightly decorated. Kyodo Station, like Japanese stations in general are the pulse of life in Japan with shopping and dining opportunities serving all budgets.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Couples enjoy the dim-lit atmosphere.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Osaka’s Floating Garden had an illuminated heart to provide a memorable photo souvenir for couples. And to celebrate a ‘Heartful Christmas’.

Osaka Floating Garden Christmas Heart for couples

 

In Osaka, we also  saw a German Weihnachtsmarkt which was very much like the typical Christmas markets in Germany. With German food, Glühwein and local gifts, it was like strolling through a market in my hometown Cologne.

Deutscher Weihnachtsmarkt Osaka German Christmas market in Japan

 

On our regular bike trips through Tokyo, we spotted some outstanding Christmas decorations on private homes. Nothing short of those jaw-dropping American winter themed houses.

The ship and the blue and white colours actually made us wonder if someone is celebrating a Greek Christmas.

Tokyo, Japan

Japan does Christmas

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

 

One of many Christmas illuminations we saw. They are free and many people come to enjoy the light shows. Japan is a one big amusement park for adults. No matter what season.

Christmas in Japan

 

Midtown Mall complex featured “Santa Street” with many photo opportunities featuring big Santa figures. Each figure had descriptions on how to pose.

Christmas in Japan

Christmas in Japan

Christmas in Japan

Christmas in Japan

 

There were also French themed Christmas market stands.

Christmas in Japan

 

Santa brings the obligatory strawberry cake.

Christmas in Japan

 

Strawberries are a must at Christmas and can be luxury goods in Japan. With prices from accessible 250 yen for a 300g bag (at our Kyodo veggie shop) to 6 USD per strawberry, where each red fruit is wrapped like precious stones in small boxes.

I have to say though that strawberries are delicious in Japan. They are juicy, sweet and nothing like the big and flavourless giant wintertime strawberries from European supermarkets.

The latest food trend is the white strawberry, referred to as hatsukoi no kaori (which means scent of first love). The white strawberry is a rare delicacy and sight, with red seeds and white flesh, concocted by a Japanese agricultural company.

Christmas in Japan

 

The custom to send a card to friends and relatives keeps Japanese post offices busy around Christmas, and especially during New Year. Post offices guarantee to deliver wishes on time, which is why post offices hire students to help deliver the cards. I took a picture of some cute Totoro themed New Year’s cards.

Christmas in Japan

 

Japanese Christmas card. Snowman is shopping for strawberry cake.

Japanese Christmas card

 

The Merry Christmas couple love card.

Japanese couple romance Christmas card

 

And of course, the Hello Kitty Christmas card.

 

While Christmas is more of an integrated commercial event from the western world, New Year is a traditional celebration in Japan, spend with the whole family. Families are visiting local shrines to wish for a good new year. On New Year’s Day, Japanese people also have osechi, an elaborate and expensive New Year bento box. I took a picture of osechi from the Lawson and Seven Eleven conbini brochures which I brought back from Japan.

Japanese Osechi New Years bento box meal

 

These are typical New Year’s decorations, featuring the Chinese zodiac figure of the coming year. The zodiac signs are animals which rotate in a cycle of twelve years. Each year is represented by an animal. 2013 was the year of the snake, 2014 is the year of the horse.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Adorable!

Japanese New Year zodiac figure horse

 

I hope you enjoyed a bit of Japanese traditions.

My Polish Christmas looked sorta like this, except this time, Tomek was wearing the Santa costume for the kids.

New Years is party time in Poland but this year we decided to stay with the family and only to go out to watch Szczecin’s fireworks at midnight. I do not have any New Year’s resolutions because I believe that everyone has the ability to start fresh any day of the year.

Anyway, have fun, smile lots, eat less, and be safe.
I wish you a wonderful holiday, however and whatever you celebrate!

I will finish this post with a gorgeous Japanese card from my friend Mai. Have a joyous New Year 2014!

Christmas card

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2 Comments

  1. Happy new year from Fukuoka<3
    あけまして おめでとうございます!!
    Hope the year of the horse brings you good luck and happiness!
    よい年でありますように☆ 

    • Thank you! Tomek and I have been born in the “year of the horse”, I wonder if that makes a difference ;)
      Wish you all the best for 2014 and we sure miss Fukuoka!

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