Christmas is mostly regarded as an informal holiday. It primarily involves time off work, presents and card exchanges, greeting friends, family, and loved ones, spending a romantic evening, and much more! Christmas is not recognized as a national holiday in Japan. Students typically receive vacations, starting from Christmas through New Year; however, businesses operate as regular working days. An organization may observe a day off depending on its particular culture and beliefs. Christmas is also not celebrated as a religious holiday in the country.
The Christian community in Japan is very small, with only about 2.3 percent of the total population being Christians. Christmas mass celebrations have recently started to be observed across the country, beginning approximately a decade ago. The streets of Japan come alive with lights and decorations during the Christmas season. Japanese people indulge themselves and their loved ones with Christmas cakes and parties. Couples treat themselves to a romantic evening out, while others immerse themselves in the atmosphere and vibrant decorations. Japan doesn’t lag behind in celebrating Christmas and becomes a captivating wonderland during the festive season. Visit Japan to witness it yourself and also discover what Merry Christmas is called in Japanese!
Top Experiences to Have in Japan During Christmas
Despite Christmas not being a major festival in this country, many people believe that there isn’t much to do here during Christmas. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as Japan celebrates Christmas with great enthusiasm and offers numerous long-standing traditions and major attractions during the festive season. Here is a compilation of the finest experiences that Japan has to offer for an incredible Christmas adventure for its visitors.
1. Winter sports
The ski season typically commences in December and continues through March. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Christmas in Japan is the abundance of winter sports options. People often indulge in skiing and snowboarding. Hakuba, Hokkaido, Yuzawa, Nozawaonsen, and Niseko are among the renowned destinations to visit. Japanese ski resorts are famous for their powdery and fluffy snow. The Christmas weather in Japan offers fresh snow, and these spots are conveniently accessible from the most popular tourist destinations. Temperatures usually drop to around 6 degrees Celsius to -2 degrees in December, making these places highly sought after by international tourists. Some tourists even choose to live in these areas permanently or for a couple of years to relish the weather and other offerings. The finest ski resorts can be found on both the main island (Honshu) and the Northern Island (Hokkaido).
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2. Hot Pot
Experience the chilly season dish Nabemono (also known as Nabe). The ingredients differ based on the preference, region, and taste of the gathering. People relish thinly sliced beef, boiled eggs, and egg dumplings, mushrooms, and occasionally leafy veggies. It is recommended to opt for the flavorful broth. Sukiyaki is the most renowned hot pot dish. It is served with soy sauce and tofu, along with other ingredients. The noodles and rice are typically cooked in the remaining broth and offer a distinct flavor. However, this dish can only be enjoyed with a group of people sitting together, sharing the table and creating memories. It is an ideal dish for Christmas as it brings friends and family together, just like the festive tradition! Enjoy the finest Japanese Christmas food experience while gathered around a table with your loved ones.
3. Ornaments and lights
The final week of December is adorned with vibrant light decorations in areas famous among international tourists. These decorations, for example, the Tokyo station illuminations, are adorned and open for exhibition from the end of November through mid-February. Both modern and historical architecture is embellished with lights. Trees and structures along the pathways are enveloped in colorful lights. Tokyo Shiodome and Tokyo Midtown grant free access to multiple areas of illumination where structures are adorned with colorful LEDs. Sagamiko Illumination provides a panoramic view of hillsides embellished with LEDs, amusement parks, and other attractions for a fee of 1000 yen per person. Other admission-free events include Sendai Pageant of Starlight, Osaka Hikari Renaissance, Midosuji Illumination, and many more. Taking leisurely strolls along the illuminated pathways and reserving a dinner table with a view of the decorations are highly recommended activities. A visit to these illuminated pathways is an essential part of Christmas travel in Japan. Typically, it takes half an hour to an hour to traverse the pathways. If you are interested in capturing close-up shots, consider the time required to take some decent pictures to share on your social media platforms.
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The winter nights are shining, chilly, and particularly transparent. This year Lake Haruna festival of lights is scheduled from December 7th to the 26th. Another renowned festival of lights can be observed in Yamanakako every day starting on November 23rd all the way until January 3rd. There is also a fire show event every Sunday that will be open to the public until Christmas. The lights and fire shows are perfect for capturing beautiful pictures and creating lasting memories. The event is also free and open from 5 pm to 9 pm at night.
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After a tiring day of bargaining and indulging in street food, you can retreat to the therapeutic waters to relax and alleviate stress! The warm baths provide a glimpse into the traditional Japanese hospitality and customs. The hot baths can be indoor or outdoor, but it is recommended to try an outdoor hot bath for a unique experience that Japan has to offer. The baths can overlook snowy landscapes. The winter cold, the festive atmosphere, and the lights and decorations come together to create a truly tranquil and peaceful experience.
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