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Christmas in Japan

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Ginza Mikimoto Christmas Tree

Ginza Mikimoto Christmas Tree

Photo by Shizuko Mishima
Do you wonder what Christmas is like in Japan? December 25 is not a Japanese national holiday. Unless it is on weekend, Japanese people work and go to school on the day. Christmas is mostly a commercial event in Japan. The big corporations do the main decorating, lighting their buildings and the trees.

Although it is estimated that less than 1% of Japan's population is Christian, many Western Christmas traditions have been adopted by the Japanese. Christmas trees are placed at home, and people enjoy having Christmas parties around Christmas Day. In recent years, European Christmas markets are also held in some Japanese cities and attract many visitors. Japanese forget-the-year parties called bonenkai commonly take place during December. You might see many drunk people in the streets on December nights.

The Japanese tend to find things of interest from abroad and transform them into something that is uniquely Japanese. Eating Christmas cakes is a Japanese way to celebrate Christmas Eve. You can find a wide selection of good-looking Christmas cakes at stores. Christmas Eve has also become a night for couples to go out and spend a romantic time together at fancy restaurants or hotels in Japan. It isn't easy to make reservations for such restaurants and hotels at the last minute on the day.

Besides exchanging Christmas gifts, there is a custom of sending oseibo (the end of the year gift) in Japan.

Unlike Christmas in Japan, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated rather quietly at home in Japan.

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