Ever wonder what Christmas is like in Japan?  In Western countries it’s usually the biggest holiday of the year, the largest driver of the economy, and a time set aside for family.

In Japan, they eat a cake.

Adults still go to work, children still go to school, and at some point during the day, typically after a regular meal, the family has a quick, simple cake.  Christmas DOES tend to have a commercial presence there too, since a lot of stores will have what they call a “Christmas Sale”.  But they’re just selling their regular stuff, plus a few motorized dancing Santas that play the song “Jingle Bell Rock”.  Santa takes the role of a cute little foreign emblem that people find funny.

As you may have guessed for an Asian country, the big holiday is New Years Day, which is called “Oshogatsu’.  THIS is time when the family gets together, presents are exchanged, and basically a large portion of the country shuts down to celebrate.  Just like Christmas in the West, there are a lot of cool and interesting traditions that take place, and it’s a very fun and fascinating holiday in its own ways.

During my time in Japan, Christmas was sort of a bummer.  Being away from your family isn’t very fun, plus the fact that Christmas isn’t really celebrated really makes you miss home a bit.  But there are a lot of great things going on in Japan around the same time, and that helps a lot.