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Ways to celebrate Christmas in Japan

Merry Christmas everyone!
Christmas is near and it’s that time of the year to gather at the fireplace, open Santa’s thoughtful gifts, and have a lovely family Christmas dinner!
Christmas is celebrated in Japan too and you can feel the holiday spirits here in Tokyo! However, when it comes to Japanese Christmas traditions, things are very different compared to western countries. 
KFC is the main food for Christmas, it’s not a day off for schools and offices, and people tend to celebrate with their loved ones rather than their families! You could say that Japan has its own way of celebrating Christmas. If you’re curious about these differences, check out our Youtube video for more!

That isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy Christmas in Japan, so in this article, we will explore some of those differences as well as many different ways that you can enjoy Christmas in Japan!

go Watch some illuminations

In Japan, people don’t decorate their homes. Rather, public places like malls and parks are the ones being decorated and they are on another level. Since Japan is a business-oriented country, lots of big companies see Christmas as a good way to market and attract people, so they compete with one another to get the biggest and baddest Christmas setup. 

Seriously, they are nothing short of AMAZING. 

The quality of these illuminations (light decorations) are up there with Disneyland. There are many different places that have illuminations, so I highly recommend stopping by one!

Visit a Christmas Markets

One Christmas tradition that Japan has successfully adopted is Christmas markets (perhaps due to Japan’s love for beer)! Most Christmas Markets in Tokyo also have amazing illuminations which makes it a magical experience (great for dates). 

Most markets are open all through December, so come stop by, eat some hot dogs or takoyaki, sip on some hot chocolate or beer, and enjoy the Christmas holidays!

Christmas Markets are always a fun time for everyone!

eat strawberry shortcake

The Christmas fruitcake equivalent in Japan is the strawberry shortcake. If you’ve ever had cake or been to a bakery in Japan, you should already know that Japan’s pastries are INCREDIBLE.  Nothing else needs to be said. 

Have your own christmas get together with a nabe party

KFC gets packed and if you’re celebrating Christmas in Japan, why not celebrate with Japanese food? Nabe, aka Japanese hotpot, is the staple winter food in Japan and is sold at pretty much every supermarket. It’s super easy to make, has lots of nutrients, and warms up your body.  What can be better than gathering friends and family at the Kotatsu table and sharing a big pot of nabe? 

go snowboarding

Another great way to celebrate Christmas can be on the slopes! Japan is made up of 80% or so mountains and there are literally thousands of ski resorts in this island country. If you love skiing or snowboarding, you can check out our most recommended ski resorts in Japan

Share some gifts

Christmas is the season of giving and while you’re in Japan, why not get a Japanese gift for a loved one? Since Japan is all about business, there are many high-quality Christmas gifts you can find in Japan. Around Christmas time, you can find gifts being sold everywhere from big shopping malls to the middle of the JR station.  This Christmas, show a loved one how much they mean to you!


The Christmas traditions are different in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that the Christmas spirit isn’t there! Wherever you are in the world, I hope that Santa comes by with many presents and that you have a wonderful Christmas season this year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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