I was sitting down having dinner with some of my Japanese friends, and they asked me, “Do you have any plans for Christmas?” Though my family is back in the US, I was still planning on celebrating Christmas with some friends, so I casually replied, “yes,” to which they immediately got excited and started asking, “With who?! With who!?”
Unlike America, there is absolutely no concept of Christmas as a family-oriented holiday in Japan. Rather, it’s a romantic holiday almost like Valentine’s Day, and everyone is supposed to be with their lover. The below picture might sum up Japanese Christmas pretty well:
It’s actually kinda funny, because they almost all of the details of Christmas decorating right: the Christmas trees and wreaths, the Christmas lights, Santa Claus’ and Santa hats and reindeer and sleds are everywhere. The other day I was actually in a Starbucks coffee shop overlooking Hachiko Square, the biggest square in Tokyo, and I failed to get a picture of it, but there was a group of Santa motorcyclists cruising through the intersection.
Though they get the aesthetic sense of Christmas as we know it in America perfectly, they do seem to miss the deeper meanings of what Christmas is about. There aren’t really any manger scenes outside of Christian-related places, and I might even go so far as to say not to expect to see the spirit of giving much beyond any internationally-related places, though maybe that is going a bit too far. Regardless, the dominant spirit of Christmas in Japan is definitely a more lovey-dovey one : P
There is a Japanese Christmas Tradition that we don’t have in the America that I do like, though, and it’s the Christmas cake! I figure if it’s someone’s birthday, It only makes sense : P