Length of Celebration
Here in the states, people usually start going into high gear with Christmas cheer after Thanksgiving. In Japan the Christmas spirit arrives right after Halloween. There's no major holiday in between the two so Christmas is celebrated through November to December in many ways. I recently went to Japan for two weeks in November. This was the perfect time because I got to experience autumn and Christmas in Japan at once.
Japan loves its illuminations during Christmas. You can find several articles naming the top spots to visit in Japan that have amazing lights (so I'm not covering that topic here). But you can finds lights around any city. I was walking to Umeda station in Osaka and the streets were lined with lights in the trees. If you want to see just regular lights around town then it can be easily done without seeking it out. The thing that you won't find in Japan are lights on houses. In the states it is normal to decorate your house with lights and more. The only personal decoration the Japanese do are in home decorations that are usually there for parties.
Christmas is Romantic
Christmas is not for family in Japan like it is in the states. Christmas is a time for couples to have an extra special day. You can think of it with the standards of Valentine's Day. I recently talked with a Japanese friend of mine and she said if you don't have a boyfriend for Christmas you're not having a good Christmas. I found this very depressing but then I was reassured that if there was a group of friends that didn't have significant others they'd all get together to have a party.
Christmas Themed Goods
Japan already has a perfect score on themed items, but they blow it out of the park for Christmas. Name any merchandise and I bet you there is a Christmas themed item for it. There are even Christmas themed drinks and cakes that you could get at a konbini (convenience store). I had the opportunity to experience these special items for myself. I was not disappointed.
|Christmas themed Pokemon goods.|
Feels Like Christmas
Not many people will understand this one but I come from the south of the United States where it is mostly hot and humid all year round. I'm lucky if it's even cold on Christmas day (this year it will be a high of 73F and low of 63F). In Japan it feels like Christmas! It's nice to see it and feel it at the same time. While in Japan I wore a winter coat almost everyday. At night it would get really cold, so watch out for that if you're not used to the cold.
Now, Japan has their own music industry that is very popular around the world. I've heard Japanese artists cover Christmas songs or even make their own Christmas music. But if you're just out shopping or eating at a restaurant don't be surprised if you hear the English Christmas music you've grown up with. My husband and I went shopping in Kyoto and familiar Christmas music was being played outside the mall area. We even heard English Christmas songs in the Baskin-Robbins. It definitely made us feel like we were back home.
Christmas is a Marketing Holiday
I was raised in a Catholic home and went to Catholic schools all my life (except college). Down in the south it's pretty common to go to Catholic school. Even though I don't strictly practice the religion I still believe in how religious Christmas is to Catholics. It's a very important holiday. In Japan don't expect statues of baby Jesus in a manger or the three wise men. Christmas is a marketing holiday in Japan. They ask themselves how much money can we make this year? Nothing is wrong with that at all because it's even beginning to look like that here in the states. I'm just saying don't expect to bring back a Christmas ornament of an angel or baby Jesus from Japan to your grandmother. You won't find that.
Christmas time is a great time to visit Japan if you ever want to experience the way they celebrate the holiday. Just know you don't have to go to Japan in December or around Christmas time to enjoy the season. I know it would have been heartbreaking for my family if I missed Christmas as it is one of the bigger holidays we celebrate. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions in the comment section below about Christmas in Japan. I'd be happy to answer them.
But as always, thank you for reading my blog! I hope you enjoyed it. If you're interested in learning more about Japan please looks around at my other posts. Also come follow me on social media where I post more Japan related content.