Well, it’s Christmas time in Japan and although Japanese people don’t celebrate Christmas in the traditional manner, they do celebrate it. The city is alive with Christmas music and people are lining up for hours to look at the holiday illumination. Shop staff are wearing santa hats and short stay “love hotels” are at maximum capacity, as xmas is a symbol of romance. The stores are crowded with shoppers, not shopping for people on their xmas list, but for themselves and most importantly for xmas dinner.
Where do people in Japan go for their Christmas dinner? Kentucky Fried Chicken!
They will wait for hours in line to get their take out order of the traditional Christmas bucket of chicken. Then, they will go to the cake shop and buy a Christmas cake, which is a strawberry shortcake. (cost is about $50 USD.) Which was shocking to me, since strawberries are even in season but, it’s the red and white and resembles xmas so with some intense marketing it is an instant success and a national tradition.
When I asked Japanese people why they eat at KFC for xmas, they responded, “That’s what Americans eat.” When I explain to them that KFC isn’t opened on xmas and most people eat ham or turkey and definitely not fast food, they looked at me in disbelief as if to say, “Why are you lying to me?” The truth is, that KFC started marketing this idea in 1974 to increase sales, but no one seems to care about having a national holiday that is associated fast food.
But, for Japanese couples on Christmas eve, what could be more romantic as they walk to an overly illuminated short stay ‘love hotel”, while triumphantly carrying an overpriced shortcake and bucket of original recipe. The next day as couples stumble out of the hotels from their night of romance and sensory overload from the large amounts of sugar, grease and blinding illumination, Christmas is gone!
By the end of the day, all the xmas trees, santa’s and illumination are quickly taken down, and there is no sign of the holiday at all, unlike my father who just leaves his lights up all year.
So, if you’d like to experience a Japanese styled xmas in your own country it’s easy. First, try to find a place that sells strawberry shortcakes and buy one.
Then put on your santa hat and go to KFC on xmas eve.
Meet your romantic interest and check into a short stay motel.
Open your bucket, as she grabs her plastic spoon-fork to dig into the cole slaw, you manly grab your drumstick. You can use the same spoon-fork to eat your xmas cake later, and enjoy a Japanese styled Christmas.
You may never look at KFC the same again.