This is my third Christmas in Japan, so while it is comfortable for me, I still enjoy and sometimes get a little bit shocked by the weirder side of Japanese Christmas. Christmas is celebrated differently in every country; I was happy that Japan celebrated it at all, as they have never been a predominately Christian country. It is still surprising that around December you will see Christmas trees everywhere, houses decorated and even girls in sexy Santa outfits.
People are sometimes surprised to hear that in Japan, the widely eaten Christmas dish is Kentucky fried Chicken. Japanese people also believe that this is eaten on Christmas day all around the world, which is a little hilarious. This is down to a commercial that KFC ran a long time ago seeing a Western family sitting down to a bucket of fried Chicken on Christmas day. It seems kind of weird but remember that our idea of Santa comes from a Coca Cola commercial, so its not that different really. Japan really loves European culture, so it made sense that they would go all-out on Christmas.
Other Christmas foods that are eaten on Christmas day include "Christmas cake" and even a special kind of Christmas Crepe, sold only in Harajuku filled with strawberry, kiwi and chocolate cake!
Strawberries are in season during the winter in Japan, so you will see them go hand-in-hand with anything Christmassy.
Harajuku was a fantastic place to get in the Christmas cheer, from the gorgeous, sprawling illuminations in Omotesando, to the more creative window displays. La Foret - the huge department store in Harajuku - almost always has a special "high fashion" take on Christmas. Although my favorite had to be the display outside of Japanese Harajuku fashion brand "SPINNS" who dressed up their tiger in a santa-costume. It somehow worked for me and got me feeling festive.
Neighboring Harajuku, Shibuya also put on a lovely and unique Christmas spread. The massive clothing department store Shibuya 109 did a collaboration with the boy band "Exile" for their Christmas display, whilst outside Hachiko statue there were dozens of Santas hanging from the trees, as though they crash-landed their sleigh right in to Scramble crossing.
There are two downsides for me when thinking about Christmas in Japan:
1. There is no gravy here, so I had to get my Bisto imported.
2. Christmas ends on Christmas day. On the 26th everything is taken down, there is no such thing as boxing day.
Apart from that, it is always enjoyable in Tokyo, with plenty of beautiful illuminations and even pop-up ice rinks, but actually Christmas day, I didn't spend it in Tokyo at all.
Leo suprised me with a coach trip, but he didn't tell me where.
The coach left Shinjuku station and an hour later we were in a very mountainous part of Japan called Sagami. There is a "resort" atop a random mountain which boasts an impressive Christmas illumination show, the unique thing this year was that it was collaborating with the release of the Paddington Bear movie, so it was actually British themed!!!
There were endless amounts of twinkling lights covered fields and trees, there were also some small rides such as a little car that takes you on a tour of the illuminations and the infamous "peddle roller coaster" where you have to peddle it yourself at alarming heights. The air was very clear and fresh, but also very cold as the resort is actually up a mountain,so you can see clouds drifting by - which is quite surreal really. I also made a mistake of wearing heels as of course everywhere was pretty steep.
The little British touches made this for me; an illuminated bus, a Buckingham palace and they even re-created the Queen out of lights, except she was faceless and you could put your face in the space. That was a little bit weird in all honesty. It always makes me happy that Japanese people have a fierce interest in British culture, probably due to the massive popularity of Harry Potter.
Finally we ate dinner in the restaurant, which had a huge Paddington Bear gift shop. They had various Japanese and British foods on offer that day, I went for a big helping of fish and chips since I hadn't had it since I was in England. I ordered it a long time ago in a British pub in Tokyo and they gave me fish and....Crisps?! After that blasphemous day I never ate it again in Japan. This one exceeded my expectations though! It tasted like Birds-Eye, but they included some seaweed soup with it, that kind of ruined the British aesthetic.
This event is running until February so I totally suggest anyone who wants to see some pretty lights to take the trip. It was pretty cheap, maybe 3000en each in total.
After that we took the coach back home and spent the rest of the evening playing Playstation 3 and watching movies, it was a perfect Christmas. <3
Lastly bonus pictures from our bonenkai *end of year party*
I hope everyone had a magical Christmas!