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‘Merry Christmas’ has been the year end greeting for people for decades.  People have enjoyed the closing of each year and recognized the slow down as people settle with their families for time to reflect and enjoy each other.  In the West, the New Year’s holiday is a one day event in most countries but in Japan, it:’s a bigger deal, while Christmas isn’t.

Christmas In Japan

In Japan, Christmas is mostly a commercial holiday with people eating Christmas chicken (no real supply of turkey in Japan) and maybe buying an ornamental Christmas cake to eat with their family.  People work on Christmas day so it’s usually an evening thing on Christmas eve or even the evening of Christmas Day.  The number of Christians in Japan is increasing however most people are not Christian. Therefore, many do not know Christmas is a day set to recognize the birth of Jesus Christ.  Christmas is certainly more fun in the West than it is in Japan.

New Years Holidays Or Shogatsu

The time to enjoy Japan is New Years holidays, also known as ‘Oshogatsu’.  Typically, all of Japan shuts down from usually 29 Dec to 3 January each year.  This depends a bit on how it falls on the calendar and may vary for what industry your company is in.  While westerns have long Christmas holidays in Dec, Japan citizens and residents enjoy a long New Years Holiday.  Some go to Buddhist or Shinto shrines for New Years day, while others go to special services at their churches.

If you’re planning to come to Japan, you will find many people off and the usually bustling streets of the major cities quiet as everyone is at home.  If you like quiet, that great but if you’re planning any meetings it’s best to avoid 29 Dec to 3 January unless you have friends that you can enjoy the special new years food and drink.  If you’ve got the personal connections, that’s a great time to visit Japan.

Need advice on what to do in the greater Tokyo (Kanto Plain Area)? Check out Great Things To Do Tokyo.