Monday, November 8, 2010
The holiday season is almost here. Despite not celebrating Christmas (at least not as many in the west know it), from the amount of Christmas displays all around Japan, you’d swear it was the most important holiday of the year.
Shop displaying is an art and it’s taken to great heights in Japan. Displaying really goes up a notch in early September when believe it or not, it’s Halloween. Halloween is another festival that has a very short history in Japan and not a lot dedicated followers outside of the children’s and young-adults age bracket. Nevertheless, Halloween seems to be growing in popularity each year. Big department stores such as Loft and Tokyu Hands pull out all the stops with massive amounts of decorations and Halloween themed costumes and paraphernalia on sale. I’d even go as far as saying that the attention and detail paid to Halloween in Japan exceeds that of many English-speaking countries.
Almost immediately after Halloween ends on November 1st Christmas season begins. Department stores have already rolled out their Christmas decorations and trees and it’s only the beginning of November. KFC, a major player in the Japanese Christmas, have already announced their Christmas fried chicken menus and prices. Christmas sponge cakes which are tremendously popular on Christmas day are already available on order.
You needn’t be a predominantly Christian nation to cash in on Christmas. Christmas day is not a holiday in Japan. Students still go to school and everyone else goes to work, yet the season is a major sales period. Another difference is that Christmas abruptly ends on December 25th. In a matter of hours all Christmas decorations give way to New Year’s displays. New Year’s being the most important holiday in the Japanese calendar.
Despite the majority of Japanese people not observing such festivals and holidays, the attention paid to Halloween and Christmas is quite amazing. This time of year really is a treat if you want to see beautiful Christmas light displays. Most cities in Japan dedicate entire parks and neighborhoods to such displays. The displays in Tokyo’s bay-side area, Shinjuku’s Time Square and Roppongi Hills are well worth taking the time to go see.