Around this time last year, I was eagerly preparing for baby’s first Christmas, hajimete no kurisumasu (初めてのクリスマス | first Christmas) in Japan.
This year, we’ll be in the States for “authentic” festivities, but here’s how we celebrated last year.
Christmas in Japan
Christmas in Japan is a beautiful but wonderfully commercialized event. Then again, you could say the same about Christmas in the West!
After all, it seems like every year the decorations get put up earlier and earlier.
But, at least in Japan, there’s no need to pretend that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”
The Japanese have taken out all Christian references of Christmas and made it something that people of all religions can enjoy.
Just to be clear, Japan is not a Christian nation. Only 1.5% of the country is Christian, meaning there’s more registered foreigners in Japan than Japanese Christians!
This topic is interesting to me because I worked on translation project for a travel company and it touched a bit on the dark history of Christianity in Japan. I’d studied abroad at International Christian University and Graduated from Sophia University, two of Japan’s private universities that happen to be Christian.
My husband’s family is Shinto and while I grew up in a Christian home, I don’t see the harm in incorporating both. I personally want to learn more so I can answer Little Kaiju’s questions one day.
While Shinto translates as “the way of the gods (kami)”, it’s more of how to live in harmony with nature, by respecting everything and everyone around you.
I also feel like Shinto is more cultural than religious – nearly every major event is Japan is derived from Shinto, yet Japanese people will quickly tell you that they have “no religion.”
So, when it comes to Christmas in Japan, it’s less about Jesus and more about Christmas cake and festive illuminations… and having at romantic date at Tokyo Disneysea!
Plus, it’s just a fantastic opportunity to dress up your kids in Santa suits and dresses, reindeer ears, and snowman themed anything.
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How to Celebrate Christmas in Japan
So if you’re in Japan to celebrate your child’s first Christmas (or any Christmas, for that matter), you’ll have plenty of scenic backdrops and yummy treats to choose from.
In fact, a great idea for celebrating Christmas in Japan is a Christmas-themed cake smash photo shoot!
It’s best to make a reservation for a Christmas cake (クリスマスケーキ | kurisumasu ke-ki) at a patisserie or even your nearest convenience store. But, you certainly won’t have to go far to find a Christmas cake in a big city like Tokyo or Osaka.
After all, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and every birthday needs cake, am I right?
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My 1st Christmas Cake. . 🎂👶🏼🎂👶🏼🎂👶🏼🎂👶🏼🎂 Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m loving all the festive posts and snow scenery 🎂 Christmas in Japan means (1)Illuminations (2) Fried chicken and (3) CHRISTMAS CAKE. 🎂 Christmas cake is a sponge shortcake with Christmas themed toppings, though you can find elaborate and elegant cakes at high end places. You can even get them at the local convenience store! 🎂 As for our cake, it was preordered at our neighborhood @chateraise. Check out the monster and her fried chicken 🍗 on My Story as well as my latest blog post on Christmas in Japan #linkinbio 👀
You can even opt for individual mini cakes if you can’t bear to let good cake go to waste!
Need gift ideas from Japan? Check out these fabulous suggestions for kiddies and adults on The Tokyo Chapter: