Hi! I’m Daiki from Japan. Since Christmas is coming soon, I would like to introduce how the Japanese celebrate Christmas.

Most people’s religion in Japan is Buddhism or Shintoism, not Christianity. The proportion of Christians is really small, but we celebrate Christmas anyway, and our celebration is a little bit different from Christian countries. The day is a holiday in most Christian countries, but as Japan is not a Christian country, the day is not a holiday. We have to go to work or to school as usual. We think the day is for families or especially couples. If you go out on that day, you will see many couples out celebrating. Of course, many people spend the day with family as well. If so, they eat KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and a cake!!! This is the very common style in Japan, so there is always a long line-up in front of KFC on Christmas day. Christmas in Japan is not a sacred event, but more like a festival and businesses do a lot of advertising to promote their sales.

As mentioned, most people in Japan believe in Buddhism or Shintoism but we celebrate Christmas and Halloween. While New Years is the biggest celebration in Japan, Christmas is a big day and the Japanese love it. Why do Japanese celebrate these days when they are not from our culture originally? In my opinion, there are 2 reasons. One is that we are being influenced so much by Western culture these days. The other reason is that we are not so strict with regard to religion. Foreigners often say, “Japanese are with no religious faith.” Most Japanese people have their own religion, but we also pick up good things from other religions and enjoy them!

How about presents? Parents give presents to their children in the guise of Santa Claus, so that the children can find the presents near their pillow when they wake up. We also exchange presents, but it’s usually among friends or couples, not family. There are no typical presents. These presents are what people asked for or simply what someone wants to give. One more interesting thing is that we don’t exchange cards on Christmas day, because we do that on New Year’s Day. We traditionally exchange cards to pray for a great yea, but the tradition is actually disappearing because of e-mail or other social network services. Also, we set up Christmas trees in families, in stores and on streets. I think it’s similar to here.
I’ll spend the day in Japan and I’m really looking forward to it!!!

Daiki