Christmas in Japan

Christmas isn’t a religious holiday in Japan.  People don’t even get December 25th off from work.  But that doesn’t stop businesses, towns, and individuals from celebrating the season.  And, because Japan always puts its best effort forward when doing something, the decorations are pretty amazing.

As early as November 1 – just as the weather starts to turn and the leaves begin to fall – it’s not uncommon to see Christmas displays pop up all over the country.  In fact, while I was out shooting a video at the end of October, Yebisu Garden Place already had their Christmas trees up along with their Halloween pumpkins!

They weren't sure which season to celebrate at Yebisu Garden Place!
They weren’t sure which season to celebrate at Yebisu Garden Place!
Many town squares / transit hubs will have Christmas light displays.  Outside my train station in Musashi-Sakai, they put up a very brilliant display of moving lights .

Elaborate Christmas lights decorate the transit hub at Musashi-Sakai train station.
Elaborate Christmas lights decorate the transit hub at Musashi-Sakai train station.
Stores waste no time in getting in to the Christmas merchandising spirit.  Loft – a major variety store chain here in Japan – had their Christmas section open on November 1, complete with a number of decorations for people to take home to deck their own halls.

A sampling of merchandise available for Christmas at LOFT.
A sampling of merchandise available for Christmas at LOFT.
However, Christmas is not cheap in Japan.  Small artificial Christmas trees can cost upwards of ¥30,000 to ¥40,000 (C$300-400) – and that’s not including the decorations.

A beautifully lit Christmas tree stands tall outside the PARCO department store in Shibuya.
A beautifully lit Christmas tree stands tall outside the PARCO department store in Shibuya.
Many of the major business and retail districts around Tokyo have set up elaborate light displays to celebrate the season.

Meanwhile, at Tokyo Disney Resort – the Japanese version of Disneyland or Disney World – they spare no expense in putting on a show for Christmas.  I recently shot and edited this video for Chris at TDR Explorer.

Even KFC gets in on the holidays, decking the Colonel out in his very own Santa suit – a symbol that the restaurant chain is taking pre-orders for Christmas chicken (something that has become a bit of a tradition in Japan since KFC arrived in the 1970s).

Colonel Santa-ders?
Hanging out with Colonel Santa-ders?
Despite there being no snow here in Tokyo (although they did get 44cm up north in Hokkaido earlier this week), there’s no way to avoid getting in the Christmas spirit.  And for someone who loves the season like I do, that’s a good thing!

%d bloggers like this: