Christmas in Japan is celebrated in different but enjoyable ways as compared to the United States. It wasn’t always this way, and modern Japanese Christmas “traditions” developed after World War II, during the American occupation period. New Years is still the big day in Japan, as compared to Christmas, but you will definitely know it is Christmas in Japan
Although December 25th remains a regular day in Japan, even a workday during the workweek, Christmas decorations and music abound in public places.
During the Christmas season of 1987, popular singer Seiko Matsuda’s “Pearl White-Eve” song was playing on the television and radio, aimed for the younger Japanese, many of whom look at the Christmas season with a romantic viewpoint:
Lyrics translated at: http://www.project-imas.com/wiki/PEARL-WHITE_EVE
Unlike the somewhat PC-constrained environment of modern America, where some are afraid to even say “Merry Christmas” for fear someone may be offended, this irrational fear isn’t a problem for the Japanese, as you can see and hear in this more recent (2010) Christmas song “Jin Jin Jingle Bell” by Nozomi Sasaki and friends – warning – this is one of those fun songs that will drive you crazy when you first hear it, but then you may find yourself repeating the chorus with glee!
Song lyrics translated at: http://www.jpopasia.com/play/32080/nozomi-sasaki/jin-jin-jingle-bell-feat-pentaphonic.html
During the Christmas season people shop for gifts, often food, drink and desserts, and young couples spend bucks on date nights at restaurants and the like. Even one of the icons of japan, Godzilla, is in on Christmas!
And while many Americans look forward to turkey, ham or even steak, there is a rather strong desire among Japanese for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which makes for an easy way for a family or friends to have a Christmas meal, especially during a regular workday evening. Christmas Day is KFC’s biggest sales day of the year in Japan.
In Misawa, chances are virtually certain one will enjoy a White Christmas, whether you want to or not! That was certainly the case during the Cold War Samurai era at the base. When the winter descends on the Tohoku region, one has to adapt. Wonder what the intervals between takeoffs are for a launch like this? (Leave it to a Panther…)
On the base you will see the big plywood Christmas cards that various units on base will post at the headquarters circle during the season.
As they celebrate Christmas, the American military communities in Japan often invite Japanese neighbors and citizens to join in on the cultural activities. This year marked the 54th annual commemoration of lighting the base Christmas tree at Misawa. Again, no matter what the PC-obsessed types say as they try to neuter and spay American culture, history and traditions, this is still called a Christmas tree – we don’t celebrate “Holiday,” we celebrate Christmas! And that’s OK… really…
Although different from the US, Christmas in Japan during the Cold War Samurai era was definitely enjoyable and a memorable event, and surely remains so. So on this Christmas, 2015, and on the cusp of a new 2016 year, a season’s greeting to all readers of this web log:
Occupation era Christmas card, see more examples, at: http://www.theamericanmenu.com/2010/08/mixed-icons.html
Christmas Tree lights, at: https://directjapan.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/christmas-in-japan/
KFC for Christmas in Japan, at: https://www.quora.com/How-and-why-did-KFC-become-part-of-Japanese-Christmas-tradition
Misawa Viper in the Snow, at: http://www.af.mil/News/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000395422
Misawa Christmas card boards, at: http://www.misawa.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123433126