Christmas in Japan is Date Night for Adults
Christmas is a bit different here in Japan. Much of this is because Japan is not a Christian country, and Christmas is primarily a Christian holiday. Sure, we have Christmas trees, and the stores and bars are all decked out for the holidays. But the traditional Christmas with a big tree and presents is just for kids. For adults without Children Christmas in Japan is date night!
Christmas Works Different Here
Unlike some countries, where the first signs of Christmas marketing show up in the heat of summer, Christmas in Japan starts around mid-November. That’s when you start noticing Christmas merchandise in stores. And around that time, shops and restaurants add a few Christmas decorations. But there are no Santa’s in stores, no caroling in the streets, and most people don’t write Christmas cards.
Real Christmas trees are super expensive in Japan, which is why most families opt for fake trees. Of course, they come in more flavors here; we saw hot pink and even gold Christmas trees in stores. But except for a few stores and businesses, Christmas trees are mainly for families with children. You know, to put the presents under. That part works pretty much the same here if you are a kid.
Another thing remarkable absent from Christmas in Japan is residential Christmas lights or any outside decorations. There are no decorations of any kind in our family home in Nakayama. We did decorate a little because we hosted two Christmas dinners. But we definitely stand out in our building and our neighborhood.
Of course, commercial displays are a different story. Winter Illuminations, as they are called here, are a big deal in Japan, literally. Created from millions of LED lights, some of these displays are remarkable. Here in Sendai, we have the Starlight Parade of Lights on Jozenji-dori in December, the most popular place for holiday selfies in town!
Christmas in Japan is Date Night
So, what do people do for Christmas in Japan, you ask? Well, families with young children celebrate much as an American family would. And some people don’t do anything for Christmas; our big holidays are coming up at the very end of the year. New Year’s Eve and especially New Year’s Day are celebrated much more than Christmas in Japan.
But there is one thing that couples and adults without children do for Christmas in Japan. For them, it is date night! Think of it along the lines of Valentine’s Day. Many hotels offer specials, including private hot tubs, in-room dinners, and even couples’ massages. If you are pressed for time, you can simply check in to one of the infamous Love Hotels.
And Christmas in Japan doesn’t mean adults don’t get to unwrap presents. We now shift from Valentine’s Day to Halloween. Some stores sell outfits for both elves, and Santa’s that you probably would not wear in front of your kids. But they certainly give a whole new meaning to unwrapping presents.
And there you have it, Christmas in Japan. Coco and I were never that much into this holiday, so this new way of doing Christmas works well for us. We enjoyed all the lights and displays. And our dinner guests brought us some lovely Omiyage. So, we are happy! Our first Christmas in Japan was a success as far as we are concerned. And we haven’t even unwrapped our presents yet!
Merry Kirisumasu from Sendai! We wish you all a happy holiday as well. And we hope you will have as much fun unwrapping your presents as we will!