Christmas in Japan

I love stories of Christmas in Japan. Japan is not a Christian nation like America is, so their view of Christmas is a lot more like my non-Christian view. Further it doesn’t have the odd juxtaposition of religion and secular holiday our nation seems to have (see also Chocolate Rabbits, while people talk of the Resurrection of Christ).

In Japan, they go to KFC!

Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan—only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian—yet a bucket of “Christmas Chicken” (the next best thing to turkey—a meat you can’t find anywhere in Japan) is the go-to meal on the big day. And it’s all thanks to the insanely successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974.

When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for 834 2,920 yen($10)—pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the christmas chicken dinner (which now boasts cake and champagne) goes for about 3,336 yen ($40).

And the people come in droves. Many order their boxes of ”finger lickin’” holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines—some as long as two hours.

Oh and THIS!

This April, they opened a three-story restaurant at the south entrance of Shimokitazawa station in Tokyo which offers the company’s first-ever, fully stocked whiskey bar—what their website says gives visitors a taste of “Good ‘ol America.”

I hope much of that whiskey bar is good-old American Sour-Mash Bourbon! Scotch and Canadian whiskies would be down-right un-American!

h/t Uncle Jesse

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5 Responses to Christmas in Japan

  1. Stuart the Viking says:

    Hmm… I was in Japan over Christmas when I was in the Marines (actually Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, it was a 6 month pump) around 20 years ago. I don’t remember seeing any KFC, but then I had no idea to look so it might have just passed right under my nose. What I do remember is a few of the little bars in Iwakuni had turkey because various Marines and/or Marine Wives had decided to give the bars a taste of American Thanksgiving/Christmas. Most of the Japanese people that I knew wouldn’t touch it. They said it had no flavor. If you think about it it makes sense. The way Americans bake their turkey, it ends up with a rather… shall we say relaxed… flavor profile that isn’t very common in Japanese food. I like it, but then again, I’m American.


  2. LWJ says:

    Weerd, look up Christmas Cake.

  3. Old NFO says:

    Yeah, our ‘exports’ to Japan were and still are KFC, Pizza Hut, A&W Root Beer and Baskin Robbins… Saw all those in the early 70’s…

    • Stuart the Viking says:

      And Dairy Queen! Don’t forget Dairy Queen!

      True story:
      While I was there I got the brilliant idea to go for a long walk out “in town” (Iwakuni Japan). About 10 miles away from base, it became apparent that I was going to need to urinate LONG before I would make it back to base. AAANNNDDDD… I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to ask for directions to the head in Japanese. I could remember Spanish and German (a friend had recently taught me, I can’t remember it now) but not Japanese. Just as I was getting ready to panic, I see the DQ sign. Hmmm… I walk in, and the the MENU IS IN ENGLISH. Woo Hoo!!! SAVED!! …nope. The adorable little Japanese woman* behind the counter didn’t speak a lick of English. A quick game of charades (use your imagination) had her running around the counter, grabbing my hand and dragging me off through a maze of the building to what looked to me like a janitors closet (man, I thought i was the luckiest dude in the world… for a second), but sure enough, there was one of those funny little Japanese toilet thingies in the floor in the corner. The girl disappeared…. damn… but at least I didn’t wet myself.

      I ended up getting lost trying to find my way OUT of that building and never did find my way back to the DQ to thank the woman. I did, however, find my way back to the base.


      * Without trying to sound condescending, I’m 6’3″ tall. I’m HUGE in Japan. Walking around Japan, I was at LEAST a foot (usually more) taller than EVERYONE when I would go out walking away from the base. I couldn’t help but find the tiny little Japanese people to be adorable…. you know… with all due respect and all.

  4. Mr_Rich says:

    I was in China for the first time in September. I was really surprised at the number of KFC restaurants I saw. I didn’t go in any so I don’t know what they served, chicken I imagine.


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