Christmas was introduced in Japan by Christian missionaries many centuries ago. The festival became popular in Japan at the beginning of 20th century. It is not a national holiday for celebrating Christmas in Japan. However, more and more Japanese are keenly adopting the Western customs for celebrating Christmas in Japan. They decorate their homes, exchange gifts with family and friends, and celebrate the festival with a special meal. Over the years, Christmas has proved to be something special for the Japanese.
Christmas celebrations in Japan begin a week prior to the festival.
Christmas trees, Santa Claus and other seasonal decorative items are
vividly displayed in the retail stores and shopping malls of the
country. Many streets of Japan are illuminated with fascinating
lighting arrangements during the festive season. Homes, pin ball
parlors, cafes and dance halls in the country are decorated with
tinsel lights during Christmas. Hospitals are decorated with trees
to perk up the spirits of the sick. Mistletoe trees are beautifully
decorated in many places of the country. Origami swan is widely used
to decorate the 'community trees'.
Two special Japanese customs are related to the celebration of
Christmas. The first one is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony which is
termed as 'Daiku' in Japan. It is performed in many
regions during Christmas celebrations in Japans. The second one is
Christmas cake, which is the traditional Christmas food for the
Japanese. Christmas cakes in Japan are generally made up of sponge
cake, whipped cream or fresh strawberries.
The perception about Santa Claus in Japan is really interesting. In
the country, Santa Claus is called as 'Santa Kurohsu'.
People in Japan believe that Santa Kurohsu has eyes in the back so
that he can watch the beloved children all through the year. There
is a priest known as 'Hoteiosho' in Japan who closely
resembles Santa Claus. He is believed to be an old man who carries a
huge sack. Christmas and Christianity is very much respected in
Japan. But, the religious roots of the festival are hardly known to
the Japanese. No wonder why- Christians in Japan make up only 1 % of
its total population.
Christmas in Japan is celebrated with zest. Japanese are keenly adopting the Western customs for celebrating Christmas in Japan.