Interestingly Christmas Eve is celebrated more than Christmas and it’s considered a romantic holiday equivalent with Europe or the US’s standard of Valentines Day
In Japan, only 0.5% of the population is Christian. Most of the population is Shinto/Buddhist (incorporating relics of both religions into one-for example having Shinto weddings and Buddhist funerals) and Christmas is rarely celebrated as a religious holiday. It’s not even considered a big holiday and its Christmas Eve that’s celebrated more so than Christmas.
Kentucky Fried Chicken of all things is considered the food of choice for Christmas. Because of marketing strategies by KFC they have been lead to believe Americans eat chicken instead of turkey and/or ham on Christmas. This has led to the special ‘Christmas Chicken’ special of KFC in Japan and often people must place orders in advance of Christmas.
Families in Japan will celebrate Christmas also with a Christmas cake. The father of the house will purchase it on his way home from work and the family will eat it once he brings it home. Once Christmas day hits, Christmas cake prices are cut drastically which has led to an interesting saying. Christmas cakes are to all be gone by the 26th and as a result, women over 25 who aren’t married are considered ‘cut in half in price’. Despite this, many Japanese women don’t get married until their later 20’s still.
Which leads to the true meaning of Christmas in Japan, it’s a romantic holidays, or rather Christmas Eve is. It’s considered the romance holiday that Valentines Day in America is considered and girls without dates are pitied. Fancy hotels and restaurants are often booked full as boys and girls spend the day with that special someone.
Presents are still given out and often the gifts are obligatory gifts (gifts to co-workers or a boss) or exchanged between close friends. Gifts are often expensive since they are generally cute things like stuffed animals, or chocolate or jewelry. Christmas cards are also exchanged, but again only with close friends and not with family.