Read about the origin, history and celebration of Christmas (Kurisumasu) in Japan.
Fundoo Times: Festivals: Christmas: Christmas in Japan

Christmas in Japan

Origin and History of Christmas in Japan

Christianity was introduced in Japan by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries in the 16th century. During early years of Christianity in Japan many Christians were arrested, tortured and killed. In the 17th century the churches began to grow again and in the 20th Century many missionaries came back to Japan to start Christianity and its celebration. Thus Christmas celebration in Japan began in the early 20th century. For many years only people who believed in Christianity celebrated Christmas but today Christmas is a universally observed festival.

Local name: Kurisumasu

Ways to celeberate Kurisumasu in Japan

Christmas is not a legal holiday in Japan, but has become a commercial gala as people are interested in yearend shopping. The season begins from early December and all the shopping malls are crowded with plenty of shopping freaks. In Japan Christmas Eve is more famous than the actual Christmas celebration. On Christmas Eve, Japanese participate in Christmas parties and family get-together’s. Christmas Eve is also observed as a wonderful night for unmarried couples to go out on romantic dinners at fancy restaurants. On Christmas day exchanging gifts is an important part of the celebration and Japanese consider this as sending oseibo which means the year end gifts. During this time the kids usually receive gifts from a Buddhist monk ‘Hotei-osho’. Even though Christmas is not a major festival in Japan they celebrate it in their defined way and thus it has become a special season for the Japanese people.