So…do the Japanese celebrate Christmas? I suppose so. To say “the Japanese celebrate Christmas” is a bit of an overgeneralization. Plus, the Japanese conception of Christmas is a bit different than the American one. First, only 2% or something of the Japanese population is Christian, so it isn’t exactly a religious holiday here. Christmas is, pure and simple, a commercial holiday. I was surprised when I first walked into a store and heard Christmas music being played, but it ended up being an inescapable constant just as at home. George Michael's "Last Christmas" seems to be *the* Christmas song to play over and over and over again. Stores had Christmas sections and Christmas sales just as at home. There were a few houses nearby that put up Christmas lights and stuff. The girl’s dormitory for my university had lights up as well. Nagasaki station, which is a large shopping center, had a big Christmas tree with pink lights setup outside.
Japan differs in that Christmas isn’t celebrated on Christmas day, but on Christmas Eve. Presents, if to be given at all, are given the night before. All the Christmas décor and ornaments and stuff in stores are cleared out by Christmas morning (in preparation for New Year’s). One particular Christmas tradition that is uniquely Japanese is eating KFC for the Christmas meal. Apparently KFC was pretty unpopular until some person decided to dress up the Colonel Sanders statue that is in front of most KFC restaurants in a Santa costume. It brought in customers...and now you have to reserve your Christmas day chicken well in advance.
My Christmas was pretty uneventful, although Christmas Eve was a total blast.