Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve in Japan

This is a quick post, but it's something that makes me chuckle.  Since it's our first Christmas here, one of my neighbors who has spent several Christmases here, gave me some tips.  If you don't like to bake, you can always find a lovely little Christmas cake- they do not really do cookies here, but they can make a cake look very pretty. If you need to go out last minute shopping, there's no rush, stores are not too crowded, and they don't close early.  Also, if you are done opening gifts on Christmas morning and you forgot batteries, you can always go out and get them because Christmas day is a normal day to Japanese people.  Most importantly, all Starbucks are open.

The one thing she warned me about though, was to beware of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Eve. It struck me as odd that KFC would be a crowded nightmare on Christmas Eve.  I asked my Japanese teacher why and she said they associate the American holiday with eating turkey, but since most of them have tiny ovens or no oven at all, they can't cook a turkey, so they eat chicken.  You know, for the first time ever, I found whole oven roasting chickens at our local grocery store, most were precooked, but there were a few that you could cook on your own.  Guess what I have in my freezer now?

Well, I proceeded to ask another Japanese friend about the KFC situation.  He pointed out that they have a clever ad campaign that makes Japanese people think they should have the custom of eating fried chicken on Christmas Eve.  Now, I wanted to witness the madness first hand, so in the early afternoon, we went to the food court of our grocery store.  Here's the KFC- yes, the colonel is dressed up like Santa:

Then, this was on the side:

Check out the massive amounts of these buckets.  I didn't know Japanese people would even want a bucket that big of chicken.

I wanted to go back at night to witness the long line and see people filling up the buckets but I couldn't bring myself to leave the house.

I was talking to my brother on the phone today and he was saying how they were getting together with some friends to get Chinese take out.  Then, it clicked, KFC is the Japanese equivalent of our Chinese food.  Dave swore Chinese food on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve was only my family's tradition, but I asked him why there was always a 2 hour wait.  So there you have it- they probably think we're strange for wanting Chinese on those days too.

On Christmas Eve, the stores selling the Christmas cakes get very busy too.  Check out Baskin Robbins selections for this year.
Here's the room full of the preorders- quite a bit for a country that recognizes the holiday but does not celebrate it.

Oh, and look at the sundae selections, too bad they didn't have stuff like this at the BR in the US:

This made me chuckle because I think for the most part, many of us would not even think of KFC as our go to place for a Christmas Eve meal.  We could not bring ourselves to follow the Japanese Christmas Eve tradition to fill up a bucket with chicken- instead, we stuck with a family tradition of making swedish meatballs.

However you and your family choose to celebrate Christmas Eve, I hope it's a good one!

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