4 Unique Japanese Christmas Traditions 

4 Unique Japanese Christmas Traditions 

Tis the season to be jolly! Christmas is in the air! While things may be a little different this year, Christmas is the one thing most people across the globe can celebrate. Because Christmas is global, that pretty much means every country has unique and wonderful ways of celebrating it. At OSU, we’re proud of our Japanese roots and want to share some unique Christmas traditions that you’ll only see in Japan…

1. Christmas Eve Romance 

Christmas eve is a much bigger deal and is seen as the most romantic day of the year (almost taking over Valentine’s Day). In Japan, couples will often book a lovely romantic dinner then have a cute stroll to absorb some of the amazing illuminations that appear during Christmas. This merry Christmas time is often seen as the holiday for lovers, New Years’ is often seen as the holiday for the family. [1]

japanese women holding a lit up heart

2. Christmas Cake 

What’s one thing that can make Christmas just a tiny bit better? Cake! In Japan, it’s common to have a strawberry shortcake with a light and fluffy whipped filling. During Christmas time you will be able to find this cake just about anywhere. To give a bit of history, this cake represents Japan coming out of very tough world wars when sweet foods were seen as a luxury. The colour of the cake is also red and white which can symbolise the Japanese flag. [2] You can find this infamous cake at any patisserie store, Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki Paris in Tokyo. 

3. Oseibo Gifts

Oseibo is an ancient Japanese gift-giving tradition in which it is a chance for people to express thanks to someone who has shown them kindness in the year. This can extend family and be given to colleagues or acquaintances e.g. a great Oseibo gift would be Apple Cider Vinegar products for a colleague who is trying to pcreate new wellness habits! [3]  In recent times, the act of Oseibo has faded and has morphed into more general gift-giving during the month of December. While the concept of Santa is accepted in Japan, it is slightly different. Instead of a chimney (due to housing architecture in Japan), he is a magical ghost that appears with gifts. [4]

4. Kentucky For Christmas

Christmas dinner in the UK features a massive, delicious, mouth-watering roast turkey or ham with the famous pigs in blankets. It’s a staple that many cook every year. However in Japan, fried chicken is one of the most popular Christmas dinners. KFC, often referred to as Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakki (Kentucky for Christmas) it’s in huge demand during the Christmas period and on Christmas day. It’s recommended that you order a month in advance for your KFC Christmas feast, otherwise you’ll be waiting in long queues. [5] 

Christmas Time

Christmas time is here and however, you wish to celebrate it is unique to you. Whip out the stockings and get the present under the tree. There is no wrong way to enjoy the holiday season as long as you are happy. Whether you like to have a big roast or divulge in KFC or whether you like to celebrate it with your lover or family members - Christmas is a time of feast, love, unity, and celebration. 


  1. https://www.jrailpass.com/blog/christmas-in-japan 
  2. https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/how-to-celebrate-christmas-in-japan/ 
  3. https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/osu-apple-cider-vinegar-blueberry-pomegranate/611349-745167-745168
  4. https://japanintercultural.com/free-resources/articles/oseibo-winter-gift-giving-in-japan-a-fading-tradition/ 
  5. https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/things-to-do/tokyo-q-a-how-does-japan-celebrate-christmas